TaxProf Blog

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Comment:  The big legal education story of the week has been the reaction to the closing of Whittier Law School.  Those who oppose the closing mainly do so on the ground that it provides opportunities for minority students.  However, I have trouble seeing the opportunities offered to minority students when the school has a 22% pass rate for first-time bar takers and a 22% rate for jobs requiring a J.D.

Law schools should help minorities and students from with poor economic backgrounds. But, admitting minority students with nothing more will do nothing, as the results at Whittier demonstrate.

If you want to help minority students, you have to adopt new teaching methods. See my article, How to Help Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Succeed in Law School, 1 Texas A & M Law Review 83 (2013). A few law schools have done this with remarkable results. For example, the program at FIU has caused the school to have the highest or second highest bar pass rate on the last four Florida bar exams.  If one law school can reverse the tide of failing law students, all law schools can.

For more legal education news, visit the Legal Skills Prof Blog.

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As a life long southern Californian and practicing attorney here (where I also attended law school), i can tell you that no minority is helped by a Whittier law degree if their goal is full time long term employment at a law firm with more than two attorneys, government or other gainful legal employment.

Resumes with Whittier on them are discarding in the first cut. This is not anecdote. So even if one manages to actually graduate from Whittier (despite the fact that 1/3 of the class flunks out first year) and the survivors actually pass the bar (which only 1/4 of the survivors do on the all important first try), they are welcomed by a tight local market (where nearly all Whittier grads compete) that views Whittier on a resume as a reason to stop reading.

This is the reality, and Whittier's statistics prove it. Did i mention that Whittier grads are on the top of the list for student debt? Toxic.

Kudos to Whittier College for pulling the plug. There are a lot of good law schools in So Cal. and Whittier, La Verne, Western State, Cal Western and Thomas Jefferson aren't on that list...

Posted by: Anon | Apr 28, 2017 11:24:17 AM


Thank you for your comments. As a practitioner, you have a perspective that most law professors lack. It is helpful to see how members of the local bar rate students from particular law schools. You get to see how graduates function in the real work, while those of us in legal education only see statistics and U.S. World ratings.

Posted by: Scott Fruehwald | Apr 28, 2017 12:23:00 PM