Just Like Pulling Teeth: How Dental Education's Crisis Shows the Way Forward for Law Schools

70 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2016 Last revised: 17 Nov 2017

Date Written: March 1, 2017


Nearly all observers of the current law school crisis treat legal education as a unique discipline. In their view, legal education as a whole, and individual law schools, have nothing to learn from outsiders that would be useful in reacting to, or thriving in the face of, the radical changes in legal education that have resulted from the collapse of the admissions market.

I take an entirely different approach. I believe legal education is not sui generis. In fact, another profession faced a similar crisis. Its schools’ admissions market collapsed because of a fundamental change in the profession itself. Twelve percent of those schools were closed. That profession was dentistry, and the lessons from its crisis are the way forward for legal education and for law schools.

To become less vulnerable to closure, and, in fact, to thrive, a law school needs to take an intentional approach to core external relationships. I identify those relationships and offer my observations on how schools can build them. I also discuss the importance of relative prestige among schools and of a national ranking system. During the dental education crisis dental schools were disadvantaged by a lack of both a prestige system and a ranking system.

Keywords: legal education

Suggested Citation

Chiappinelli, Eric A., Just Like Pulling Teeth: How Dental Education's Crisis Shows the Way Forward for Law Schools (March 1, 2017). Seton Hall Law Review, Vol. 48, No. 1, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2825813 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2825813

Eric A. Chiappinelli (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University School of Law ( email )

1802 Hartford
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics