Paul L. Caron

Thursday, January 31, 2013

NY Times: Law Schools’ Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut

New York Times:  Law Schools’ Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut:

NY TimesLaw school applications are headed for a 30-year low, reflecting increased concern over soaring tuition, crushing student debt and diminishing prospects of lucrative employment upon graduation.  

As of this month, there were 30,000 applicants to law schools for the fall, a 20 percent decrease from the same time last year and a 38 percent decline from 2010, according to the Law School Admission Council. Of some 200 law schools nationwide, only 4 have seen increases in applications this year. In 2004 there were 100,000 applicants to law schools; this year there are likely to be 54,000.

Such startling numbers have plunged law school administrations into soul-searching debate about the future of legal education and the profession over all.

“We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books,” said William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University, who has written extensively on the issue. “Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken.”

Responding to the new environment, schools are planning cutbacks and accepting students they would not have admitted before.

A few schools, like the Vermont Law School, have started layoffs and buyouts of professors. Others, like at the University of Illinois, have offered across-the-board tuition discounts to keep up enrollments. Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago Law School, who runs a blog on the topic, said he expected as many as 10 schools to close over the coming decade, and half to three-quarters of all schools to reduce class size, faculty and staff. ...

“Students are doing the math,” said Michelle J. Anderson, dean of the City University of New York School of Law. “Most law schools are too expensive, the debt coming out is too high and the prospect of attaining a six-figure-income job is limited.” ...

“In the ’80s and ’90s, a liberal arts graduate who didn’t know what to do went to law school,” Professor Henderson of Indiana said. “Now you get $120,000 in debt and a default plan of last resort whose value is just too speculative. Students are voting with their feet. There are going to be massive layoffs in law schools this fall. We won’t have the bodies we need to meet the payroll.”

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But the law schools are such cash cows for the honorable non-profit universities. Someone has to support the Asst. Vice Provost of Diversity and Sustainability.

Posted by: Lee | Jan 31, 2013 2:09:09 PM

That piece in The Atlantic just about sums it up. That's it in a nutshell.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 31, 2013 1:25:34 PM

I hope the former Dean of Northeastern Law School, who did her part to ruin my son's life, also is looking for work soon. Let's shave the heads of these whores (female and male) and march them through the streets. In 2006 I told her she had to cut down the number of students she admitted, and she said, "But I have all these associate deans to support." Hah!

Posted by: Lowellguy | Jan 31, 2013 11:25:37 AM

Hire more administrators to manage the decline in attendance.

Posted by: WJW | Jan 31, 2013 11:20:07 AM