Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

George Washington to Cut Size of 1L Class

George Washington LogoNational Law Journal, George Washington Joins Ranks of Law Schools That Are Scaling Back:

George Washington University Law School is the latest to intentionally reduce enrollment in the face of declining law school applications.

Law Dean Paul Schiff Berman said the school does not plan to cut any specific percentage of J.D. candidates from the incoming class this fall, but hopes to move enrollment below 450 and continue to reduce the number of new students in subsequent years. In fall 2011, the school enrolled 474 J.D. students.

Last month, administrators at UC-Hastings announced plans to cut enrollment by 20% over three years. Albany, Creighton and Touro reduced their incoming classes during 2011.

Berman said that he had planned to reduce the number of students since assuming the school's top administrative position in May 2011. The school experienced a 15% decline in applications during this admission cycle — mirroring a national drop in applicants as reported by the Law School Admissions Council — which provided additional motivation to lower enrollment, Berman said. ...

George Washington will forego some tuition revenue, but administrators hope to fill that gap though increased fundraising and the introduction of new programs for nonlawyers, Berman said. For example, the law school will team with the business school to offer a joint degree in the law and business of government contracts next fall. It hopes to launch a similar program for non-lawyers in intellectual property. ...

Berman predicted that additional law schools would reduce the size of their incoming classes, even if they do it quietly. "I think almost any school that can afford to do it will cut down the class size," he said.

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One wonders about the wisdom of quality law schools singlehandedly taking on the problem of excess enrollment while law schools such as Cooley and Charlotte expand their operations to provide many more new openings than the quality schools such as GWU can close down. Cutting off places at the top of the pyramid of legal education while many more places are created among the ranks far below does not seem to be the answer.

Posted by: Bill | May 15, 2012 10:12:00 PM

I wonder if this will reduce output, though. This just addresses GW's difficulty in getting enough credentialed lemmings to protect its U.S. News ranking. It apparently does nothing, however, to address the overproduction of lawyers. Cutting 1st year enrollment is not the same as cutting the number of degrees it will confer.

Among the coming "new" revenue generators, (such as peddling worthless new degrees banking on the ignorance of foreign students, and non-law domestic ones), I'd expect to see ramped up transfer poaching from cross-town schools lower on the ranking chain to protect the bottom line.

I don't mean to be overly cynical, but if there is one thing I've learned reading this site over the last few years, it's that if you suspect law schools of doing something shady, your probably right, and it's probably much worse and more endemic that one could have possibly imagined.

Posted by: Anon | May 15, 2012 11:02:58 AM