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March 26, 2013


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Jim Milles

Applications are down slightly less than previously projected means "uptick"?

Jeffrey Harrison

Not sure this is good or bad news but the discussion is always about the supply side of the market. Surely something can be done to have an impact of the demand side. Clearly, we need more law and more complexity.


What's really going to be interesting is when people start making enrollment decisions; I suspect more applicants than usual will decide not to go, since law schools were heavily recruiting and offering to waive application fees for people who never really wanted to go (GMAT takers, for example).

The schools, as everyone finally admits, have a serious problem. If they don't fill seats then they can't pay faculty; if they cut admissions standards then they'll not only dive in the rankings but they'll also get punished by the greater university (Duke or Georgetown is not going to let mediocre students get a graduate degree with their schools'name on it); the law professorate has few allies in the rest of the university (there is a certain amount of resentment in other disciplines, many of whom consider law professors to receive twice as much pay for half as much work even with inferior educational qualifications).

The problem really is with the pay structure and work schedule and nobody in the academy has come up with a reasonable plan to fix that. Eventually there are going to have to be firing of tenured faculty or significant reductions in pay; while law school administrators are pretending this is impossible due to tenure and to avoid faculty revolts, tenured professors can certainly be removed due to financial reasons and that's probably going to start happening fairly soon.


TWBB -- interesting that you use two T14 schools as examples -- do you think they will be forced to cut class size? I suspect it will be the lower ranked schools.

As for the rest of rhe Unversity, they may be relying on law school money to support their other programs -- the rest of the Unversity may be more resistant to cutting class size than you think.


Northwest has already cut class size; I'm sure others will follow. Universities like "the tax" but trustees are not going to let their law schools devalue their name simply for short-term profit, much of which goes to overpaid faculty and administrators. Something has to give now that disinformation doesn't work. If it's not incoming students it will be faculty, and I suspect a fair number of tenured faculty are going to find out that despite popular misconceptions, "tenured" does not mean "unfireable."

Jeffrey Harrison

I am surprised I have not heard of more schools buying out senior Professors. A 250$ a year prof can be replaced for 125$. A substantial buyout payment could be made and made up for fairly quickly. Supposedly the senior person is better at teaching and research but I think that is an empirical question. Young faculty are hungry for tenure.


Law professors tend to stick around for a long time, and the workload is not particularly arduous, so a 70-year professor can easily look forward to 15 more years of full-time employment. What would retiring get them? They already get significant free time, so it's not like they would gain that much for retiring.

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