Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Amidst 40% Decline In Applications, University Of Maine System Approves Law School Reorganization

Following up on my previous post, Report Recommends Sweeping Changes At Maine Law School:  Portland Press-Herald, UMaine System to Consider Changes to Maine’s Only Law School:

Maine LogoThe University of Maine System may give its law school more independence from the University of Southern Maine in hopes of addressing financial challenges, growing enrollment and improving academic programming.

The proposed changes come at a key time as the law school is embarking on a search for a new dean and trying to determine how to best meet the needs of the state as Maine’s only law school. ...

In a report released in July, the committee documented budget shortfalls, faculty positions that have gone unfilled or without pay raises, a lack of fundraising and marketing schemes, and an enrollment strategy that relies too heavily on scholarships. It also stressed a need to diversify course offerings and do outreach in rural, underserved areas of the state. ...

From 2011 to 2018, the number of applications in Maine dropped from 988 to 574 – a 40 percent decrease. ... To stay competitive, the law school has increased the amount of money it spends on grants and scholarships, but failed to bring in necessary tuition funds. ...

At the same time, state funding that flows to the law school through USM has remained stagnant at around $850,000 for several years. Cummings has pledged to increase those funds by 50 percent through 2021 to bring the new allocation to nearly $1.3 million.

Portland Press-Herald, UMaine System Trustees Approve Law School Reorganization:

Trustees of the University of Maine system on Monday approved a reorganization of the University of Maine School of Law in an effort to grow enrollment, provide more relevant academic programming and improve its financial standing. ... The law school changes, which will take place immediately, gained unanimous approval from the board.

They include budget independence from the University of Southern Maine and the ability for the dean of the law school to report directly to the university chancellor, a responsibility usually reserved for campus presidents.

“We’ve moved swiftly to resolve some of the issues at the law school,” Chancellor Dannel Malloy said during a board of trustees meeting at the University of Maine at Fork Kent. He added that other changes already implemented include a 3 percent pay increase for faculty – the first pay increase in five years – and the search for a new director of academic success.

The changes come on the heels of a report that recommended sweeping reforms at the law school, which in recent years has struggled with budget deficits and operational challenges.

The report released in July said the school relied too heavily on scholarships and financial aid to attract students, and documented problems such as an increasing reliance on adjunct professors at the expense of tenured faculty, a lack of adequate fundraising and a need to expand and diversify course offerings.

It also documented budget shortfalls that in recent years have been met by drawing on funds from the university system and the University of Southern Maine, which shares a campus with the law school and previously had channeled state funds to the law school.

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


4 graduates from the most recent class working in law firms over 10 attorneys, out of a class of 75. What is the possible justification for this school continuing to exist, other than the pay faculty salaries?

Posted by: JM | Sep 17, 2019 5:02:54 AM

That sure sounds a lot more like "UMaine is cutting its law school loose" than "UMaine is making plans to save its law school."

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 17, 2019 8:21:06 AM

Unemployed, it sounds like you don't know what budget independence means. In higher education, that's a really good thing.

Posted by: AB | Sep 18, 2019 5:44:41 AM

How dare you, JM! Just because Maine is the poorest state in the Northeast, with a stagnant population, the oldest demographics in the country, no large employers, and barely any need for new law graduates in this *great* economy doesn't mean there won't be a remunerative need for several million new lawyers in the state at some nebulous point in the future because, uh, reasons. ;-)

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 18, 2019 12:02:39 PM


It sounds like you didn't read the articles. Maine Law is, by the narratives here as well as the public data in its Form 509s, losing students, losing state appropriations, losing revenue, and the whole "making it independent" gambit is nothing more than the university severing a gangrenous limb.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 22, 2019 5:43:39 PM