Law Schools' Reaction To Drop In Enrollment

It looks like market forces are starting to drive a serious drop in enrollment for law schools. From the Law School Admission Counsel's (LSAC) website:

"As of 06/28/13, there are 380,429 Fall 2013 applications submitted by 57,772 applicants. Applicants are down 12.9% and applications are down 18.3% from 2012. Last year at this time, we had 98% of the preliminary final applicant count."

So what does this mean for law schools? There have been numerous instances of law schools cutting staff/faculty or compensation within the last few weeks.

Seton Hall Law School has cut faculty compensation by 10% and has given notice to all untenured faculty of possible termination with the 2014-2015 academic year.  The school says expenses will determine whether that is necessary.

Vermont School of Law is eliminating 21.4% of its full-time tenure track faculty positions.  He bases these figures on four tenure/tenure track faculty have gone from full to part-time.  Two more left the school with their positions eliminated.  The full-time faculty has been further reduced when four members went from full to part-time.

Florida Coastal School of Law has laid off about a dozen employees based on a drop in enrollment.  The school noted that a limited number of faculty members were leaving voluntarily and will not be replaced.

McGeorge School of Law is reducing its class size and its staff.  The staff reduction started off as a voluntary severance plan.  The school nonetheless was forced to lay off several staff members.

I feel conflicted about these things. I have friends who have been hit hard by the tough legal market after law school because of the imbalance of supply and demand. But I've also read articles that it's not a glut of attorneys that is the problem, rather it's the gap in areas that are served -- namely rural areas. There are areas of legal education that need reform, but the recent actions of laws schools are reactive instead of proactive. Now the law schools will have to do more with less, which doesn't bode well for a proactive approach to legal education reform.

Law Librarian Blog -- Law School Downsizing In The News


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