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18 Law Schools See Enrollment Drop by 30% or More

Vivia Chen

February 18, 2014

We haven't checked out the law school scene in a while, because, frankly, it's so predictable. Yes, enrollment is dropping like flies in the snow, and law schools keep slashing tuition like yesterday's cupcakes. Anyway, here's what's happening:
1. If you have a pulse (and dough), you are in! Yup, your canine might have a shot at law school these days. The National Jurist has compiled a list of 25 law schools with the greatest drop in enrollment since 2010. Here are the 18 schools where enrollment has plummeted by 30 percent or more:
University of La Verne -66.2%
Cooley Law School -40.6% Feverpitched - iStock
Catholic University -39.5%
New York Law School -38.7%
University of Dayton -38.5%
Pacific McGeorge -38.4%
Widener U. - Harrisburg -36.9%
U. of New Hampshire -34.8%
Seton Hall University -34.7%
Liberty University -33.9%
Western New England -33.3%
Case Western -32.7%
Hamline University -32.7%
Ave Maria School of Law -31.8%
Appalachian School of Law -31.0%
Widener University - Delaware -30.5%
Vermont Law School -30.5%
Saint Louis University -30.2%
As Above the Law's Staci Zaretsky points out, attending one of these illustrious institutions ain't necessarily cheap. Cooley cost $43,500 a year, which is only "$8,850 less than it costs to attend one of the other second-best law schools in the nation (Harvard, $52,350)."
2. Is Ohio the bargain basement for law schools? Don't despair, you don't have to pay throught the nose to go to a law school with a mediocre national ranking. But you might have to pack your bags and head for the Midwest.
The National Law Journal reports that Ohio is getting aggressive about filling its law schools. NLJ says that discounting tuition is the rage right now but that it "is especially prevalent in Ohio, an unusually competitive market comprising nine law schools."
The latest to join this bandwagon is the University of Toledo College of Law, which is now offering Ohio and Michigan residents reduced tuition (from $20,578 to $17,900 per year)—making Toledo the lowest-priced law school in Ohio and Michigan. Just in case you needed a reason to move to Toledo.
You might remember (actually, why would you?) that University of Akron School of Law and the University of Cincinnati College of Law are cutting out-of-state tuition too, along with Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law, which cut 25 percent off its tuition across the board. So many bargains! Pity they are only good in Ohio.
3. That's nice, dear. According to a new survey by Kaplan Test Prep of prospective law students, 58 percent prefer that law school be cut to two years instead of the current three, reports NLJ. Moreover, 97 percent of prelaw students would like to add clinics into their curricula.
How nice that these future lawyers are expressing their views on legal education. Too bad no one with any influence cares.

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Cutting law school to two years would only result in increasing the number of lawyers, not increasing the quality of lawyers. Something else to consider is your incomplete research; it would be much more interesting to see an analysis of enrollment numbers and class quality (LSAT and GPA). Some of these schools are actually be improving, not declining. Enrollment is not the only measure of success!

Why not cut law school to zero years? A huge number of practicing lawyers seem to have zero knowledge of what the law is anyhow. They simply advance the same arguments any unschooled client could make. They waste a huge amount of everyone else's time and money, which is just fine with many judges who seem to think that there is nothing wrong with stupid, meritless wastes of time. Every client deserves his or her day in court, but not every uneducated lawyer does. The end result is that the average person is priced out of a hugely inefficient legal system.

I went to law school in Ohio because I was there (working) about 20 years ago. Cleveland-Marshall wasn't in the top 50 (or 100 for that matter) but it was available and relatively cheap ( think my TOTAL cost was around 25000) and I left with no debt. Cleveland wasn't so bad either. I received a decent legal education and have never felt in my career that I was at a disadvantage to any other attorney I have worked with or faced. All things being equal, I would rather have gone to ALABAMA (home-roll tide) but with three children it wasn't possible. I'm not particularily successful (corporate attorney) but I'm not broke either. My advice to people (of any age) thinking about law school now is "get on with it" make the best of your chances and don't worry about the Wall Street jobs.

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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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