Paul L. Caron

Thursday, December 20, 2018

WSJ: Law Schools Find A Way To Fill Seats (No Lawyers Required)

Wall Street Journal, Law Schools Find a Way to Fill Seats (No Lawyers Required):

The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law used to be solely in the business of educating would-be lawyers.

Now, its faculty teach 1,177 students from around the world earning degrees other than a juris doctor—more than three times the number of traditional law students. Its $30 million annual budget today depends more on the non-law degree crowd than J.D. students.

The radical shift at the public university is playing out across law school campuses. Nationwide, 14% of law-school enrollees are pursuing non-J.D. programs, newly released numbers from the American Bar Association show, compared with 8% five years ago.


The broadening student population is among the most visible changes from a postrecession period in which many law schools overhauled operations to shore up finances. Interest in law school finally started to rebound last year after several years of plummeting application numbers. ...

At least 60 of the 203 nationally accredited law schools now have master’s programs for students not interested in practicing law. ... 

[M]any students say the degrees have given them a fluency in law that makes them better at their current jobs or positions them for a new one. It’s difficult to find a person described as a professional who is not in some meaningful sense engaged in law,” said Andrew Guzman, the dean at University of Southern California Gould School of Law. USC has 597 non-J.D. students, a third of those online, and 614 earning law degrees. Five years ago, less than a quarter of students were in non-J.D. programs. “It’s not an accident that people trained in law run the world,” he added. ...

Law school administrators stress the new degrees aren’t just a way to earn a quick buck, though many were born from financial need. Schools take pains to make students feel as supported as traditional law students. ...

Back when he was a full-time tax law professor, Paul Caron publicly questioned the value of some LLMs. Now, as dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, Mr. Caron oversees seven LLM programs, a master of dispute resolution, an online master of legal studies and several certificates. Around 38% of Pepperdine’s 780 students are enrolled in non-J.D. programs.

The courses were “designed as a strategic response when the school was looking to secure a sounder financial foundation,” Mr. Caron said. But he says they weren’t done hastily. The school partnered with online education company 2U to translate its existing teaching strengths into online courses and launched its master of legal studies in 2017.

From Derek Muller:

Top Non-JD Schools

Legal Education | Permalink


Looks like they're offering a small but increasing number of seats to mostly lawyers, and other practitioners, rather than just to would-be lawyers.

Wouldn't these people generally be more able to know what they want to learn, whether they will use it, and if it is worth the money?

Could be a win-win!

Posted by: Anand Desai | Dec 20, 2018 4:18:05 PM