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Friday, January 25, 2008

NLJ: A Tale of Two [Law School] Tiers

Tying together several recent posts (here, here, and here):  the National law Journal has released advance copies of two articles from next Monday's issue that highlight very different law school worlds:

Nlj_endowment

Donations to Law Schools Soaring; Top Schools Bolster Specialized Faculty, by Leigh Jones

Top law schools are reporting record-breaking donations that are helping to cover tuition costs, hire faculty and promote public interest programs. But in the world of fundraising, apparently it's never enough. Last year alone, Harvard brought in $48 million in cash. NYU raised about $42 million and Columbia raked in almost $24 million. ...

A look at some of the nation's elite law schools during the past five years shows huge amounts of money that they have wooed from alums and businesses. Rocketing costs, competition for top faculty and additional pressures to train practice-ready graduates will take every penny, according to most deans. But others question whether there is too much fat in the system. "Money is like fuel," said Columbia Dean [and Tax Prof] David Schizer. "A school can go higher and higher with more fuel." ...

In general, those schools and others have increased the numbers of specialized faculty, especially scholars with an international focus, and have boosted the number of scholarships available. They also have established legal clinics to provide students with practical experience and to help poor people in their communities who need legal help. In addition, more money has sparked a talent war among elite schools, with renowned professors hopscotching from Columbia to NYU to Harvard to Yale and back again, sometimes with attractive relocation packages.

All that money also likely has enabled those schools to remain at the top of the U.S. News & World Report rankings, the annual publication both revered and reviled by law schools.

Nlj_florida Facing State Cuts, Florida Law Schools Prepare to Hike Tuition, by Julie Kay:

Three of Florida's four public law schools, facing a massive $1 billion shortfall in the state budget, are planning on requesting 10% tuition hikes next year — the maximum amount allowed by law. Those tuition hikes are on top of increases this past year of between 5% and 10%. Only the new dean of 500-student Florida A&M University College of Law said he so far does not plan to seek a tuition increase. ...

"Like a lot of law schools, we're trying to avoid damage to the program by increasing tuition and fees where we can," said Donald J. Weidner, dean of 850-student Florida State. "I've been dean since 1991 and this is clearly the worst I've seen." ...

Florida public law schools are not alone in raising tuition. ... According to statistics from the ABA, tuition for public law schools rose an average of 8% in 2006, to an average amount of $13,107. ...

With the state and university finances starting to go south last year, Weidner made the decision to increase tuition by 10% this past year for entering students and by 5% for existing students. Even with the increases, the school faced a cut of $562,000 and had to slash part-time positions, cease printing brochures and ban faculty travel. ...

University of Florida, possibly the most established law school, which has a rich donor base and was able to sell naming rights to its school, has been able to "hold even," said dean Robert Jerry. University of Florida raised tuition by 10% across the board this year and plans to do so next year, too, he said. Jerry emphasized that even with these tuition hikes, Florida law schools are among the lowest in the nation. Tuition at the Florida law schools is roughly $10,000 a year for in-state students and $30,000 a year for nonresidents.

See also Local Lawyers Build Irvine Law School's Endowment, by Amanda Bronstad:

The University of California, Irvine Donald Bren School of Law has raised $23.5 million from individual donors, which include many local lawyers and law firms. UCI's law school plans to open its doors by fall 2009.

Two dozen donors have given financially to UC Irvine as of Jan. 15. The largest gift, at $20 million, came from billionaire and local philanthropist Donald Bren, the namesake of the school. ... Among the 13 donors that gave $100,000, all but one were lawyers or law firms.

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