TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, August 2, 2013

Law School Season of Discontent

La Verne Application Data

A steep decline in applications at The University of New Mexico’s School of Law is forcing the school to re-evaluate its future and put faculty expansion on hold, university officials announced this week. The school’s new dean, David Herring, is conducting a strategic planning process after the university saw a nearly 50% drop in applications in six years, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Numbers provided to the Journal show the UNM law school has had a drop in applications from 1,200 in 2007 to about 650 this year.

Law schools across the country are facing budget difficulties because of declining demand for juris doctor degrees, but according to several officials at Washburn University, the School of Law, despite having fewer incoming students, is doing well and hasn’t taken any drastic measures to cut costs. ... By this spring, the school will have 48 fewer J.D. students than it did in fall 2012. The loss comes from both declining enrollment and students choosing to graduate in two years rather than three. In total, there will be $1,314,000 less coming in from tuition payments this school year. ... Since 2012, six faculty members and one staff members have left Washburn on their own, and their positions have been left vacant. ... Other professors took on the departed faculty’s classes, and duties were redistributed. More budget cuts occurred ... but affected things like the law library and professors’ travel funds.

The ABA has sent FAMU a second report warning that it's still concerned that the university's law school in Orlando does not meet the standards necessary to stay accredited.

Here is the percentage of law school applicants who were admitted, over the last decade, to at least one ABA-accredited law school to which they applied, by year:

2004: 55.6%
2005: 58.6%
2006: 63.1%
2007: 66.1%
2008: 66.5%
2009: 67.4%
2010: 68.7%
2011: 71.1%
2012: 74.5%
2013: 80% (projected)

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BTW, there's one long-term prediction from Paul Campos, that right now, law schools are benefiting from (1) continuing lack of knowledge of actual outcomes, (2) a lingering belief (among students and parents) about the benefits of a JD and (3) massive desperation in the worst job market in thirty years.

Given the release of those (which might all occur in the next several years), there's an excellent chance of a perfect storm in law schools.

Posted by: Barry | Aug 4, 2013 3:48:06 PM