Monday, July 7, 2014
The Boston Globe: Waning Ranks at Law Schools:
Years after the end of the recession, enrollment at the nation’s law schools continues to plummet, a wrenching shift that has forced many schools to cut expenses and raised concerns about the long-term financial prospects of some. ... With a difficult job market making students increasingly hesitant to take on massive student loan debt, nearly all law schools in Massachusetts — one of the top areas in the nation for legal education — have seen enrollment suffer.
The persistent decline has forced many law schools to take drastic measures. Suffolk University, where first-year enrollment fell 15 percent last year, recently offered buyouts to all faculty with tenure or with renewable long-term contracts, and Western New England University in Springfield has pared back its faculty among a number of cost-cutting measures. ...
At New England Law School in Boston, first-year enrollment has dropped 40 percent since fall 2010, while Western New England saw a 28 percent decline. In response, New England Law School last year froze wages, offered buyouts to some faculty members, and reduced its administrative staff. The dean, John O’Brien, took a voluntary pay cut of 25 percent.
“Students are being cautious, having seen what happened,” said Vincent D. Rougeau, dean of Boston College Law School, where first-year enrollment fell 14 percent over the past three years, to 230 last year. “We’ve pretty much become accustomed to declines.” ... Not long ago, many top students saw law school as a “natural progression” from their college studies that would pay strong dividends in their careers, Rougeau said. But the speed and scope of the current decline suggests those days may be gone, observers say.