Huffington Post op-ed: Shrinking Law Schools, by Frank H. Wu (Dean, UC-Hastings):
Law schools must reduce their J.D. class sizes. They should do so immediately and permanently.
The data are compelling. There are simply too many lawyers and too many law students in the United States nowadays. Only about half of recent graduates of law schools, of which there also are too many, are securing permanent full-time employment in the legal profession at this point.
There, I've said it. Indeed, my law school has taken action. Lest observers speculate, we announced our decision as part of comprehensive strategic planning, well in advance of seeing how the applicant pool looked for this academic year. ...
Law school isn't a good bet at current tuition rates for the one third of the class that we have usually seen: the bright college senior who isn't ready for "the real world" but tests well. Too many people take up three years of Socratic method based on what they've watched on television or in the movies. They will be disappointed if not embittered by the real world of document review and legal research in an environment that is an exquisite combination of the very boring and very stressful. ...
Angry individuals are demanding that law schools simply close their doors. Some institutions may well be compelled to do so. But law schools that are responsible about shrinking will be able to keep their doors open to justice. That would be in the best interests of the schools themselves, and, more importantly, their students and society.
None of us will be able to reform the system of legal education by ourselves. If we compete during this market failure instead of cooperate to reform the rules, we will regret it.
Dean Wu neglects to mention that UC-Hastings coupled its 20% class size reduction with a 15% increase in resident tuition, to $46,575 in 2012-13 (up from $20,900 in 2004-05), as well as the elimination of 27 staff positions (and additional hiring of tenure-track faculty). 45.3% of the UC-Hastings Class of 2011 landed permanent full-time bar-required jobs.
For my perspective, see yesterday's post, The Law School Crisis: What Would Jimmy McMillan Do?.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
Update: Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), Wu-less