Indiana Tech Law, which did not receive ABA accreditation in June, will reapply this coming year. Doing its best to recruit and retain good students, it will be offering its legal education tuition-free next year. Details here.
The LSAC has just published the administrations for the June 2015 LSAT. While some of those takers may be applying for admission this fall, the June administration is typically seen as the start of the application season for those entering in the following fall. June is also typically the third-largest administration. That is, this is our first look at where applications are headed for fall 2016. The June 2016 administrations are up 6.6% over June 2015. (This is also the third administration in a row, going back to December 2015, when there was an increase over the same administration the year before.) If this trend holds up for the remainder of the 2015-16 cycle, there will be approximately 108,440 administrations of the LSAT.
The LSAC is now reporting that "As of 7/3/15, there are 333,848 fall 2015 applications submitted by 52,506 applicants. Applicants are down 2.0% and applications are down 4.2% from 2014. Last year at this time, we had 97% of the preliminary final applicant count." If this year's applicants follow last year's pattern, there will be approximately 54,130 applicants this year. The last post in this series is here.
As I'm working on a short paper on a long-lost Karl Llewellyn work -- it's two paragraphs long, but wow does it have the classic Llewellyn style -- I've been hunting around the New York Times archives. I went there in search of a petition he filed with the Massachusetts governor around the Sacco-Vanzetti case. (Thanks to Natalie Hull's fabulous book on Pound and Llewellyn, I learned about the petition. You may recall that many years ago I mined one of Natalie's other books for information on the origins of Roe v. Wade in the North Carolina Law Review.) The petition is well worth some commentary down the road. There are a bunch of familiar names on it, as well as a lot of ones I'd never heard of before. I suspect it says more about Llewellyn's circle of friends and whom he could quickly get to sign a petition than it does about the attitudes of law professors generally. But at some point those names may be worth some more commentary -- lots from Columbia and Yale, unsurprisingly -- and also some from the Universities of Missouri, Kansas, even Oklahoma. Even one person who ended up as dean here at UNC -- and the building where I work is now named after him.
Soon I'll be talking about Llewellyn's lost work -- a stand against lynching -- and what it says about Realism and Realism's connection to the Civil Rights Movement. So far as I can tell (and books.google's reach goes far), no one has dealt with this work before. But right now I want to talk about something close to the hearts of students. Apparently in the late fall of 1930 or early spring of 1931 Llewellyn was frustrated with his contracts class' performance, so he said something along the lines of 1/3 of you are going to fail (or ought to fail or some such). And then he lowered the boom on them with a difficult exam, which led a contingent of them to complain to him. And you know what? The New York Times (which I guess filled the role that abovethelaw fills now about law school scandals) picked up the story and ran it with the headline "DENIES STUDENTS' CHARGES: Dr. Llewellyn of Columbia Holds His Law Examination Was Fair" on February 15, 1931. Here's how Llewellyn walked back from his statement:
Accused by students of saying that he would like to see 35% of the first year class flunk because of their laziness, and with having given an unusually difficult examination in contracts, Dr. Karl Nickerson Llewellyn declared yesterday that students who went over the test with him were unable to convince him of its unfairness.
Dr. Llewellyn could not recall his exact words, "but what I meant to say was that no matter how good a man's natural endowment may be, if he does not work when he gets to law school that he will find that he has to be flunked."
I'm working on this Llewellyn paper in honor of my class' impending twenty-fifth reunion, which is at the end of this week, but I realize that the Times article may be more reflective of our experience at Columbia than Llewellyn's lost essay! Now, what I really need to do is track down that final exam, so we can all judge whether it was harder (and/or less fair) than his others. Next time I'm in Chicago I really need to spend some time at the University of Chicago law library, with the Karl Llewellyn papers, boxes 121 and 122, which have Llewellyn contracts exams from the late 1920s to the 1940s. Then we can all judge for ourselves whether that exam is substantially harder than previous ones! (Of course, I'm expecting old exams to be frightfully difficult.)
The LSAC is now reporting that "As of 6/5/15, there are 327,793 fall 2015 applications submitted by 50,269 applicants. Applicants are down 2.5% and applications are down 4.6% from 2014. Last year at this time, we had 95% of the preliminary final applicant count." If this year's applicants follow last year's pattern, there will be approximately 52,915 applicants this year. The last post in this series is here.
As I've said before, I think we're about at the bottom of applicants and enrollment now. This is a little above where I thought we'd be when we hit bottom. I had thought that the low in enrollment would be about 35,000 first years -- and it looks like we'll be 1000 or so above that this fall. Next year applicants may be down slightly, about the same, or up slightly. It's too early to tell now. We'll know a lot more after we get data on the number of administrations of yesterday's LSAT.
Declining numbers of applicants (and therefore three years hence number of entry-level lawyers) is good news for those who'll be looking for jobs in 2018. There will be less competition.
For me one of the continuing questions is what does this decline in applicants mean for the fortunes of law schools. How will they adjust to the substantially smaller classes? And I've got to think that the decline in revenue will be greater than just the smaller number of students would suggest, because those attending will have more leverage in negotiating for financial aid. Schools are proving remarkably resilient, but perhaps we'll see some more closures (or mergers). (Though as close readers may recall, I think schools have a ways to go before they have to close.) Faculty salaries I should imagine will shrink. The easiest to cut are summer research grants, which I intuit are already on the way out at many schools. But I should also imagine that salaries are going to decline, too.
I think deans who are pleading the case of their schools to central administrations will use what appears to be a stabilization of applications as a sign that things aren't going to get a ton worse. They may not be improving any time in the near future, but if I were a dean involved in tough conversations about the future with my central administration I'd be arguing that applicants are stabilizing and that things are unlikely to get worse. That may not be good enough for some central administrations. My guess is that we're not going to see more than a dozen or so law schools close and that all of those will be in the "rank not published" tier of U.S. News.
The University of Montana has received a $10 million dollar law school naming gift from Alexander and Andrew Blewett. The school will now be named the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana. Details here. Blewett, a successful Montana trial attorney, is alum of the school.
Two former Cleveland State University law school employees - Jean Lifter, a former assistant dean, and Sheldon Gelman, a retired tenured faculty member - are suing the University and Dean Craig Boise, alleging they were fired in retaliation for Gelman's efforts to unionize the faculty. The two are married. Details and a copy of the complaint here.
This announcement is possible as the result of a continued and additional cost-cutting initiative and the dedicated support of members of the Charleston school community. The school’s landlords are cooperating with the school in efforts to consolidate facilities. Also the school’s year-long effort to reduce the size of the faculty and staff to a level consistent with the reduced enrollment will continue and begin to have a budgetary impact in September.
I'm not surprised that Charleston's owners have decided to reduce costs and continue operation.
The LSAC is now reporting that "As of 5/8/15, there are 322,360 fall 2015 applications submitted by 48,702 applicants. Applicants are down 2.6% and applications are down 4.7% from 2014. Last year at this time, we had 92% of the preliminary final applicant count." If this year's applicants follow last year's pattern, there will be approximately 52,937 applicants this year. The last post in this series is here.
"Heartbroken" owners of Charleston Law, Robert Carr and George Kosko, threatened to stop admitting new students to the law school this fall. I say threatened because the press release was titled "Law school considering options for new class of students." Carr and Kosko wanted to sell the school to InfiLaw, though InfiLaw has backed away from the deal following opposition from bureaucrats in Columbia. Carr and Kosko's co-owner, Ed Westbrook wants to turn the school into a non-profit. I'm guessing that the situation has reached a stalemate and the two owners, who are presumably highly motivated to spur action lest they bleed money with no hope of a sale, opted for the non-judicial equivalent of a dynamite charge.
The LSAC is now reporting that "As of 4/24/15, there are 317,748 fall 2015 applications submitted by 47,577 applicants. Applicants are down 2.5% and applications are down 4.6% from 2014. Last year at this time, we had 90% of the preliminary final applicant count." If this year's applicants follow last year's pattern, there will be approximately 52,863 applicants this year. The last post in this series is here.
The AALS Section on Law and Sports is pleased to announce the inaugural AALS Section on Law and Sports Award to recognize an individual that has made a substantial and significant contribution to scholarship, teaching, and/or service in the area of law relating to sports. Section members and other individuals are eligible for the award, but law schools, institutions, and organizations are not eligible to receive the award. A committee comprised of section members will consider all nominations and select a deserving recipient for recognition at the 2016 AALS Annual Meeting.
Please email nominations – and any supporting information – to Professor Dionne Koller at email@example.com. In your nomination, please provide an explanation as to how the nominee meets the criteria for the award. Nominations are due by August 1, 2015.
According to news reports, Infilaw appears to be backing away from acquiring Charleston School of Law. The proposed acquisition of Charleston stalled after Infilaw withdrew its application to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education lasat June. At the time, Infilaw indicated that it would resubmit the application - presumably after addressing concerns surfaced by Commission staff - but the company now says it has no plans to resubmit. And Charleston students are now in limbo.
The LSAC is now reporting that "As of 4/17/15, there are 315,777 fall 2015 applications submitted by 47,172 applicants. Applicants are down 2.6% and applications are down 4.7% from 2014. Last year at this time, we had 89% of the preliminary final applicant count." If this year's applicants follow last year's pattern, there will be approximately 52,968 applicants this year. The last post in this series is here.
What does this mean for law schools? It looks like the precipitous, year-over-year declines in applicants are over and we're reaching some stability, though I wouldn't expect an increase in applicants next year (fall 2016). I'm thinking that we're going to chug along with somewhere in the neighborhood of 36,000 first years next year. There's still a lot on the table in terms of what the curriculum will look like going forward and the cost of attending law school.
Now that the applicants seem to be stabilizing I'm guessing that the story for law schools for the next few years will how they adjust to smaller revenue. I'm thinking the very limited hiring that we've seen this year will continue into next year. I'm also thinking that faculty size will shrink through retirements and perhaps some more buyouts. For those schools lucky enough to be able to hire, my guess is that their needs will be focused in areas of greatest curricular need, which I would expect will be business law and experiential learning largely.
Way back in spring 2009 I predicted that teaching loads would rise and that publication requirements would fall. The first was correct; the second, given the wild over-supply of people who want to get into the academy may turn out to be wrong. That is, in times of decline, the productivity we expect of workers may increase across the board -- from teaching to service to scholarship.
The LSAC is now reporting that "As of 4/03/15, there are 308,871 fall 2015 applications submitted by 45,978 applicants. Applicants are down 2.8% and applications are down 5.0% from 2014. Last year at this time, we had 87% of the preliminary final applicant count." If this year's applicants follow last year's pattern, there will be approximately 52,848 applicants this year. The last post in this series is here.
Now that we're into April I think we can predict with some certainty that there will be a small decline in the applicants to law schools for fall 2015 over fall 2014. The National Law Journal published Karen Sloan's story about declining enrollment at law schools on March 16. In that story I went on record saying that I thought that we'd continue to see a decline in applications after 2015. Yet, I imagine we're close to the bottom in applicants. Perhaps there will be some further decline for fall 2016 -- it's hard to know that yet. Some years ago I thought that 35,000 first year students would be about the low. We're likely to be a few thousand above that in fall 2015.
Two law professors at William Mitchell School of Law are suing in the aftermath of the announced merger between Mitchell and Hamline Law. The faculty members, Carl Moy and John Radsan, filed a complaint in state court Friday arguing that the school was changing its tenure guidelines to add merger as a basis for ending tenure. This, they argue, is a breach of contract.
The schools are awaiting ABA approval of the merger.
The full text of the complaint, plus revised tenure policy, are here.
The Board of Governors of Rutgers University approved the merger of its two law schools - in Newark and Camden - yesterday. The decision now awaits ABA approval. The merged schools will both remain open on their campuses. They will apparently use application but have two co-deans who will report to the their respective campus chancellors.
In the last week or so, two law schools have announced very big gifts. Indiana University - Bloomington (the Maurer School of Law) received $20 million from alum Lowell Baier. Meanwhile, Villanova Law snared $5 million from John Scarpa.
Today, Widener University has officially split its law school into two separate units. The ABA has approved the move. Widener's Wilmington, Delaware campus will be called Widener University Delaware Law School. Rodney Smolla, former law dean of the University of Richmond and Washington and Lee, and a visiting professor at Georgia Law, will lead this campus. The Harrisburg campus will now be called Widener University Commonwealth Law School. Christian Johnson, a professor at the University of Utah, will be its dean.
Last week, John Broderick - the former dean of the University of New Hampshire School of Law and the current Director of the Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership & Public Policy - announced that he would be stepping down as the head of the Rudman Center at the end of May. He cited a lack of support from the University.
According to a news report, on Friday an irritated UNH administration told him to turn in his security badge and vacate his office immediately. Broderick's name no longer appears on the faculty page or pretty much anywhere else. His title, after leaving the deanship, did not include being a professor - so I assume he didn't have tenure.