Update: OK, this commenter seems to have a pretty good answer to my question:
It’s really pretty simple. There is not a single market for law schools. The market for each applicant is made up solely of those law schools that will accept them.
No one who can get into Harvard would consider going to Whittier law school, whatever the price. But for someone whose LSAT scores place him in the bottow 40% of test takers, that may be the only option. The fact that there are better schools at the same price is completely irrelevant if they won’t accept him.
Similarly, Ohio Northern University has a tuition of ~$35,000 a year. Harvard is ~$38,000. In hindsight the answer is so obvious I’m either stupid or I hadn’t thought deeply about the issue.
After my last post on law school, one thing is nagging at me: how is it law school tuition isn’t more stretched out in its distribution? Below are the top 10 and bottom 10 in law related job placement, witfh tuition:School Tuition in thousands Proportion in law related jobs after 1 year VIRGINIA, UNIVERSITY OF 46 95% COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 51 94% STANFORD UNIVERSITY 47 91% NEW YORK UNIVERSITY 47 90% HARVARD UNIVERSITY 46 90% CHICAGO, UNIVERSITY OF 45 88% YALE UNIVERSITY 51 88% PENNSYLVANIA, UNIVERSITY OF 45 84% DUKE UNIVERSITY 51 82% GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY 46 81% AVE MARIA 35 33% UNIVERSITY OF LA ...