Paul L. Caron

Saturday, April 22, 2017

100 Students Protest Closure Of Whittier Law School

WhittierFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Orange County Register, Dozens of Angry Whittier Law School Students Protest After College Announces Closure:

About 100 law students angry over the announced closure of Whittier College’s law school in Costa Mesa this week demonstrated at the college’s main campus on Friday, April 21.

The protest started at the intersection of Painter Avenue and Philadelphia Street, with demonstrators marching just outside the campus’ main office. Most carried signs, with messages like “Don’t shut us down,” and “We want answers.”

Both students and faculty of Whittier Law School reacted with surprise and fury at the announcement on Wednesday during an emergency meeting that the school would no longer accept new students.

“They just dropped this bomb on us a week-and-a-half before finals without any regard to how we would react or feel,” said Stephanie Rigoli, a third-year student who was at the meeting on Wednesday and participated in the protest on Friday. “They gave us a 30-minute speech that they would shut down our education.”

College leaders promised to help current students complete their programs to earn their degrees. But students said they’ve gotten no information about how many classes would be available and how many faculty members will be retained next semester.

Students at the protest said that so far they’ve gotten few answers from the board of trustees about what the plan will be for those still in their first or second years at the school. One sign accused the college of violating its fiduciary duty to the students. ...

Beginning in 2015, the board of trustees began looking for ways to keep the law school going, [Whittier College spokeswoman Ana Lilia] Barraza said, including a merger or finding a partner to take over the school. But none of those solutions panned out. ...

Some students at the emergency meeting on Wednesday said they’ve racked up to $200,000 in debt attending the school.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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At some point, the Board of Trustees needs to be able to decide that the School was just no longer a successful enterprise. It wasn't preparing students to pass the bar and it wasn't placing providing access to the legal profession, full stop. Perhaps a for-profit school can say "well, the outcome are terrible, but the loan money sure it sweet," but it's shocking to me that more non-profits don't take the same course Whittier is here. It just shows how little distinction there is between for profit and non profit in practice.

Who cares if they made some money selling the land? If that money can be plowed into meaningful educational initiatives, it's a great decision.

Posted by: EricEsq'10 | Apr 24, 2017 12:12:29 PM

"Considering how small the class sizes are at Whittier, it sounds like almost all of its students disagree and are against the closure. I'm willing to be the alumni feel the same way."

Then again, students, these are the same people that thought attending a law school with a 145 mean lsat, less than 20% real employment, aba failing bar exam rates in exchange for 200k was a good financial decision. I will take their opinions on all things financial with a grain of salt.

Posted by: Bobby | Apr 24, 2017 6:32:37 AM

"students against closure,"

The administration has been supporting the law school for years; I'm not sure why they should be expected to do so in perpetuity, particularly as the students' bar exam performance risks the school's accreditation.

Posted by: Anonny | Apr 22, 2017 10:22:46 PM


Posted by: Head | Apr 22, 2017 5:31:03 PM

What's interesting is that so many posters here have been assuming that law students would be better of without Whittier, and faculty are just looking out for themselves.

Considering how small the class sizes are at Whittier, it sounds like almost all of its students disagree and are against the closure. I'm willing to be the alumni feel the same way.

So we've basically got the administration which extracted value from the law school for decades and promised its students and faculty a secure future, betraying those promises for a quick buck while the faculty and students try to protect each other.

Posted by: students against closure | Apr 22, 2017 8:44:30 AM

"Please put us in a position of insurmountable debt and give us a law degree that will neither enable us to pass the bar or get a job!"

Posted by: AnonLawProf | Apr 22, 2017 8:44:02 AM

100 students, that's 3 times the applicants!

Posted by: anonymous | Apr 22, 2017 8:04:42 AM