TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Whittier Law School To Close, Will Not Admit A 1L Class This Fall

WhittierA Message from the Whittier College Board of Trustees:

The Board of Trustees has been greatly concerned by the challenges affecting our law program in recent years and, in 2015, the Board appointed a subcommittee to explore options for the future of the Law School. These have included working with the administration and faculty to redirect resources and efforts to improve student outcomes and right-size the operation in a manner to achieve enhanced academic viability. The Board invited a faculty task force to assess the educational program and considered faculty plans for improvement. The Board also entered into conversations with entities capable of investing in, merging with, or acquiring the Law School.

We believe we have looked at every realistic option to continue a successful law program. Unfortunately, these efforts did not lead to a desired outcome.

Accordingly, on April 15, 2017 the Board voted not to enroll new 1L classes at the Law School beginning this fall. We are committed to ensuring that students currently enrolled will have an opportunity to complete their degree in a timely fashion. At the appropriate time, the program of legal education will be discontinued.

As chairman, I appreciate the gravity of this decision and its impact on the lives of all those who belong to the Law School community. We will keep you informed as additional details develop over the next several weeks. In the interim, faculty, staff, and students with concerns should feel free to send questions to wlsinfo@whittier.edu. This email address has been established to ensure that we are able to respond effectively to your questions moving forward.

Statement from Whittier Law School Regarding Whittier College Board of Trustees’ Decision:

The following response about the decision can be attributed to Whittier Law School:

“We are obviously devastated by the Whittier College Board of Trustees’ decision to discontinue the program of legal education at Whittier Law School. For more than 50 years, we have provided a high quality education to students of diverse backgrounds and abilities—students who might not otherwise have been able to receive a legal education and who are now serving justice and enterprise around the world.

“As is well known, the last few years have been extremely difficult for law schools across the country. Whittier Law School felt those challenges keenly and we took significant steps to address them. Sadly, our sponsoring institution opted to abandon the Law School rather than provide the time and resources needed to finish paving the path to ongoing viability and success. We believe this action was unwise, unwarranted, and unfounded.

“While we are terribly disappointed with the Board’s decision, we are firmly committed to honoring our obligation to our current students and ensuring they successfully complete their education. Also, with a worldwide family of alumni numbering more than 5,000, we will work to preserve Whittier Law School’s legacy of preparing professional, dedicated attorneys whose careers have made numerous positive impacts on society.”

Law School Transparency:

Whittier

Whittier 2

Additional TaxProf Blog coverage:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/04/whittier-law-school-to-close-will-not-admit-a-1l-class-this-fall.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

While i think this is a much needed step in the right direction for the good of legal education and the profession in the wake of declining demand, I am reminded that Whittier is staffed by real human beings who depend on the school for their livelihood. I hope those who are inclined to celebrate this do so respectfully and reservedly.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 19, 2017 4:29:25 PM

Ten months after graduation, only 30 of 141 students had found long-term, full-time, license-required jobs... and 6 of those jobs were school-funded.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Apr 19, 2017 4:57:08 PM

I feel terrible for the deans and professors at Whittier Law School. As professor Illig at the University of Oregon pointed out, many law professors were all but certain to be earning more than $1 million annually in private practice before they entered academia. Fortunately, the closing of Whittier Law School coincides with a rebound in the legal market. Professor Diamond recently wrote about how 2016 was another banner year for the legal market. And as professor Seto wrote back in 2013, “beginning in fall 2015 and intensifying into 2016 employers are likely to experience an undersupply of law grads.” Private practice is much more lucrative than the meager six figure salaries paid to academics.

Posted by: anon JD/MD | Apr 19, 2017 5:49:49 PM

Still waiting for Sheldon Bernard Lyke's long-promised follow-up post at The Faculty Lounge... Too bad, so sad.

Posted by: Oops | Apr 19, 2017 6:19:16 PM

Congratulations to the Whittier Trustees for facing reality and doing the right thing by their college as well as the students attending their law school. Hopefully, this will encourage trustees at other colleges with low ranked law schools to consider all options.

Posted by: PaulB | Apr 19, 2017 6:24:43 PM

And so it begins?

Posted by: Evergreen Dissident | Apr 19, 2017 7:52:48 PM

Too much emphasis is placed on employment outcomes of law grads. If undergrad institutions were placed under this rigid test, precisely 0 percent of grads would be in jobs that require a college degree

Posted by: Gary | Apr 21, 2017 3:19:29 AM