Paul L. Caron

Saturday, August 28, 2021

A Survey Of Deans On The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Their Law Schools

D. Benjamin Barros (Dean, Toledo) & Cameron M. Morrissey (J.D. 2021, Toledo), A Survey of Law School Deans on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, 52 U. Tol. L. Rev. 241 (2021):

We conducted an anonymous survey of deans at ABA-accredited law schools asking questions about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on legal education and on law school students, faculty, and staff. Invitations to participate in the survey were distributed through a listserv maintained by the ABA. The first invitation was sent out on November 20, 2020 and the last response was received on December 18, 2020. The survey was comprised of 56 questions, including six optional, extended response prompts. We received 51 total responses, representing a bit more than 25% of the 199 deans of ABA-accredited law schools. Not all respondents completed all of the questions, but we received responses for all of the questions on the survey from at least 20% of the 199 deans of ABA-Accredited law schools.

Our key findings include the following:

  1. Deans overall have moderate concern over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their students’ education, with some reporting high concern and some reporting no concern.
  2. Most deans did not feel political pressure to maintain in-person classes during the pandemic. A small number of deans at public institutions, however, did feel substantial political pressure to maintain in-person classes.
  3. Most law schools had relatively low rates of COVID-19 infections among students, faculty, and staff.
  4. J.D. enrollment at most law schools increased at most law schools during the pandemic. Enrollment by non-J.D. students and international students tended to go down. Overall enrollment at parent universities also tended to go down.
  5. The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on: a) the finances of many, but not all, law schools; b) the emotional wellbeing of law school students, faculty, and staff; c) the stress level of law school deans.



The first four questions of the survey collected information on the state in which the school was located, the total J.D. student count, the total non-J.D. student count, and whether the school was part of a university. We have not published the responses to these questions to preserve respondent anonymity. Question 5 asked whether the law school was public or private. The respondents were split almost evenly, with 25 responding that their law school was public and 26 responding that their law school was public. Question 6 asked whether the law school was religiously affiliated. 10 respondents indicated that their school was religious and 41 indicated that their school was non-religious, indicating an approximately 20%/80% split in responses between religious and secular institutions.

Law360, Law Deans Felt Negative Impacts Of Pandemic, Survey Finds:

Law school deans experienced many of the same negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as BigLaw attorneys, including more stress, salary cuts, greater health concerns and hiccups in transitioning to remote work, according to a recently released report.

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