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Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gershon: Will Top Tier Law Schools be the First to Close, Like Emory and Georgetown Dental Schools?

Dental SchoolLaw Deans on Legal Education Blog:  A Lesson From a Different Profession, by I. Richard Gershon (Dean, Mississippi):

Law schools are not the first profession to suffer declining enrollments, and a changing profession. Dental schools experienced a similar decline over 2 decades ago. As a result of a shrinking job market, dental school applications dropped at an alarming rate. Accordingly, some universities decided to close their dental schools.  ...

[A]mong the universities choosing to shut down their dental programs were prestigious schools like Georgetown and Emory. My understanding is that those universities determined that their dental schools no longer attracted the types of students they wanted to have at their institutions. Like law schools, the greatest decline in dental school applications occurred at the top end of standardized scores and undergraduate GPA’s. Emory and Georgetown were concerned that the students in their dental schools would not reflect the high credentials of students in their other programs, so they decided that it was better to close the doors, than to allow the dental school to “dumb down” the university.

The assumption seems to be that it will most likely be fourth-tier schools that will close, if law schools close. Based on what happened to dental schools in an almost identical atmosphere, I am not sure that assumption is correct.


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The problem with this argument is that dental schools were and are very expensive to operate. While Georgetown and Emory gave high-sounding reasons for closing their schools, a large factor in the calculus was the high cost of operating the dental schools. Law schools are not nearly as expensive to operate as dental schools..

Posted by: Publius Novus | Nov 20, 2013 7:05:48 AM