Sunday, December 9, 2012
The Legal Whiteboard: Stealth Restructuring in Legal Education, by Jerry Organ (U. St. Thomas):
While the large firm legal marketplace was in turmoil in 2009 and 2010, law school enrollment and tuition continued to climb, even as law school graduates increasingly were having difficulty finding employment. According to the LSAC Volume Summary, in the last two years, as prospective students have become increasingly aware of the challenging employment outlook for law school graduates, and the increasing cost of law school, the number of applicants to law schools has declined by over 20%, from 87,500 to roughly 68,000. According to the ABA, the number of first-year students has declined by over 8000, a decline of 15%. Assuming an average net tuition of $25,000 per student (a rough estimate of average sticker price tuition less a rough estimate of average scholarship) this decline of roughly 8000 in first-year enrollment means law schools probably are missing roughly $200 million in first-year revenue for the 2012-2013 academic year as compared to the 2010-2011 academic year. ...
For a hypothetical law school with an entering class of 200 students in 2010, a decline of 20% or more in first-year enrollment means a first-year enrollment in 2012 of 160 students or fewer. Again, assuming $25,000 in net tuition per student, that decline of 40 or more first-year students translates to at least $1 million less in first-year revenue in 2012 than in 2010. If the hypothetical law school has seen a decline of 30% or more, that would mean a decline of 60 or more first-year students that translates to at least $1.5 million less in first-year revenue in 2012 than in 2010. If similarly smaller classes are enrolled in 2013 and 2014, this hypothetical law school will be receiving $3 million to $5 million less in revenue in 2014 than it received in 2010.