Law School Myths

1. Law school tuition takes care of all of the college’s financial needs.

Reality: Revenue from tuition covers less than half the cost of running a law school. In fact, of all state law schools, only eight other public law schools had lower tuition in 2005-06 than the University of Florida. As a result, very few other law schools spend less per student than Florida. Even with state support (see Myth #2), we are having difficulty catching up with what our peers can invest in the instructional program. Private money is needed to provide our margin of excellence in areas such as:

■ Scholarships and stipendsto attract diverse, top-flight students

■ Resources to recruit, develop and retain talented teachers and scholars (such as student research assistants and funds for research, travel to conferences, and professional development)

■ Public interest fellowships for students

■ Library resources

■ moot court, trial team, and other co-curricular support

■ career service workshops and conferences

■ a technologically advanced learning environment.

2. The State has full resposibility for supporting our law school.

Reality: The state of Florida supports higher education in general, and the law school specifically, but with the other responsibilities facing our Legislature, it is not realistic to expect this support to increase over time. In fact, the percentage of funding provided by the state has decreased over the years, and we do not expect a reversal in that trend. When the responsibility is shared between the state and the law schoolʼs stakeholders — faculty, students, and alumni—the results are tangible:

■ a superior curriculum and educational opporrtunities

■ well-prepared graduates who will be leaders in their workplace settings, their communities, the state and the nation

■ public service on a local, state, national and international level

■ an enhanced reputation for the UF Levin College of Law, which reflects positively on all graduates

 3. The college has a large enough endowment to cover its costs.

Reality: Although private gifts allowed the college to weather reductions in state funding that occurred earlier this decade, as grateful stewards of these private gifts, we spend only a small portion—less than four percent—of the market value of the collegeʼs endowment each year. The endowment is akin to the collegeʼs “savings” account, and we need more endowments to produce income that will help fund the collegeʼs “checking” account for ongoing programs.

4. Only successful lawyers have an obligation to support the college.

Reality: Our society tends to equate how much someone earns with success. The law school is founded on ideals that nurture champions in all types of practice settings. We encourage alumni to give back based on their means, whether they practice in the courtroom, in the boardroom, or in public service. This will allow the college to prepare another generation of lawyers to embrace the full spectrum of opportunities that await them after graduation.

5. Only older alumni should give back to the college.

Reality: The law school belongs to every alumnus. Recent graduates received a tremendous financial benefit from graduating from a law school that is supported by the state and those donating alumni who came before them. Did you know that several private law schools, including some in Florida, charge more than $1,000 a credit hour? So where some law graduates are paying close to $90,000 just for tuition at law school, our students pay closer to $27,000. The college, obviously, does not seek equal gifts from our alumni, but does ask for equal support—because the college belongs to all of us. Alumni could consider giving annually an amount equal to one billable hour, as suggested by Dean Robert Jerry. Or, one might consider donating the cost of one credit hour of private law school tuition.

6. Undergraduate days overshawdow your graduate experience.

Reality: The undergraduate years usually summon fond memories of growing up and experiencing new friendships, an active social life and newfound independence. Law school, on the other hand, can evoke recollections of long study hours and intense examinations. The reality is that your law school was responsible for drafting the blueprint for the rest of your professional life and providing you with comprehensive legal training and experience that led, we hope, to a fulfilling career. The law school would like you to be counted among its supporters.