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Law School Tuition Yo-Yo

The Careerist

March 23, 2011

If you thought the planned tuition increase at Stanford Law of almost 6 percent seems steep, what about a 15-20 percent increase? That's the likely tuition hike predicted at William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas by its dean, John Valery White, as reported by Karen Sloan at The National Law Journal. The current tuition is $20,000 for Nevada residents and $33,400 for out-of-state students.

The predicted tuition increase would come in response to a $2.26 million budget cut for the law school that has been proposed by university president Neal Smatresk as part of a total $32.6 million in universitywide budget cuts. The silver lining--such as it is--for the law school is that, while the university plans to eliminate 315 faculty and staff positions, there is no plan to eliminate law school faculty or staff.

Smatresk outlined the proposed law school cuts in a letter to UNLV faculty and students on March 8. A summary accompanying Smatresk's letter says that the additional tuition increases "will undermine the law school's successful formula and render it a mediocre institution." Yikes. UNLV currently is ranked No. 71 in U.S. News & World Report's law schools ranking--the latest edition was published on March 15. (UNLV moved up this year from 78 to 71.)Icecube_money300

If you are shopping around for the best law school bargain, you might do better to look at three law schools that are bucking the trend of raising tuition and instead are freezing the cost for the coming academic year. As Sloan reports, University of Maryland School of Law committed in December to freezing its tuition costs; Ave Maria School of Law and University of New Hampshire School of Law announced similar decisions in February. The University of Miami School of Law already had implemented a tuition freeze for the 2010-11 academic year, and plans to keep tuition at current levels for its students in the next academic year. (While sparing law students, Maryland and New Hampshire are raising tuition for other academic programs.)

"The decision to hold the line on tuition increases is a significant step toward improving the value proposition of law school in these challenging times," says University of New Hampshire School of Law Dean John Broderick. "Given the current economic climate and the debt loads that law school graduates are facing, a tuition freeze is one very tangible way to demonstrate commitment to our students."

And how do the law schools holding the line on tuition increases fare in the rankings? They're all over the charts, according to U.S. News rankings: University of Maryland School of Law, No. 42; University of New Hampshire School of Law, No. 143; Ave Maria School of Law, rank not published (second tier); and University of Miami School of Law, No. 77.

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger Vivia Chen at [email protected] or deputy blogger Audree Wong at [email protected]


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ERROR CORRECTION: The University of New Hampshire School of Law has not increased tuition in its other programs but instead has decreased the LLM tuition by $5000.

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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