I've enjoyed reading the posts on this issue, which grew out of the original post on counseling students in the wake of disappointing first-semester grades. I have a few other thoughts to share in response to some of the questions.
Many on this list probably know this, but it's worth noting that law school tuition has increased dramatically over the last few decades. The ABA has a table showing the costs of tuition and fees from 1985 through 2009. http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/legaled/statistics/charts/stats_5.authcheckdam.pdf
In 1985, public law schools charged an average of just $2006 per year for in-state students. Today, the average cost is $18,472. Inflation accounts for just a small portion of that increase: If in-state tuition had increased only to match inflation, the cost in 2009 would have averaged $4000. In constant dollars, public schools charged four and a half times more in 2009 than they did 25 years earlier.
Increases at private schools aren't quite as large, but they're still dramatic--and, of course, the private schools started at a much higher level. Average tuition at private law schools was $7,526 in