Thursday, June 28, 2012

TAMU Law School: The Rent Is Too Damn High

Texas A&M is apparently set on buying Texas Wesleyan's law school. The deal will cost A&M $20 million up front, another $5 million sometime in the next five years, plus $2.5 million a year to rent the law school's building and grounds in Ft. Worth from TWU (a figure that will be adjusted for inflation). That's a cost of $50 million over the first ten years and $125 million over the forty year facilities lease.

What is A&M getting for that?

An unranked law school with an pretty awful record of placing its graduates that's at least a three hour drive from its main campus plus the chance spending untold millions more to upgrade the facilities and faculty at the new law school.

A&M System Chancellor John Sharpe estimates that the University could have started a new law school "from scratch" for $100 million. Given the up-front costs, the facilities lease, and the costs of overhauling TWU's law school, the purchase won't end up offering big savings over that figure. Plus, many of the benefits of the law school (e.g. a law library, public events and lectures) will accrue at TWU's campus in Ft. Worth and not on A&M's main campus.

The deal between A&M and TWU is still taking shape. So, I may end up being pleasantly surprised by the way that the law school ends up integrating with the rest of A&M. Also, having a law school may add a lot of value to A&M in general and certainly would be useful for my work on judicial politics. Still, given the cost of the deal and the distance between the law school and the main campus, I can't help but be a bit skeptical about whether this is the right time and place for A&M to enter the law school world.

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