Two law schools from Northeast Ohio have decided to reduce the number of students they admit to their schools because of the decline in applications they have seen recently. Cleveland-Marshall College of Law has decided to reduce the number of students for its incoming class to 140 from 200. Case Western Reserve University School of Law has announced that it is reducing its incoming class from 210-220 down to 190. The applications at Cleveland-Marshall have declined by 30 percent in 2012, compared to this time last year. The school admitted 168 students for the fall class last year, according to Craig M. Boise, the school’s dean. The dean at the law school at Case Western Reserve is Lawrence E. Mitchell.
“Having been here a little less than a year, obviously the first thing you hate to do is say, “Look, my revenue’s down, and we need to … shrink revenue projections for the law school going forward,’” said Mr. Boise. “But this is something that’s not a result of poor management. It’s just a catastrophic time in the legal field right now. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this. We either needed to prepare to admit a lot of students who were likely not going to be successful enough to get a job and pay off their law school loans, or we had to get smaller.”
The amount of law school applications across the country for the fall of 2012 has declined by 14.5 percent compared to the fall of 2011 as of May 4, according to the Law School Admission Council. The council also noted that 170 out of the 200 U.S. law schools have said they have seen a decrease in applications for 2012. These numbers come on top of a 10.7 percent drop in the amount of people who applied to law school last fall.
“It’s just beginning to happen, I think, so it’s really difficult to predict what the extent of it will be and how many law schools will end up doing that,” Wendy Margolis, the director of communications for the Law School Admission Council, said.
Boise said that if Cleveland-Marshall continued to admit 200 students each year, the school would risk admitting students who would be at a ‘serious risk’ of not passing the bar.
“I think it’s an ethical issue,” Boise said. “I can’t sleep well at night feeling that I’m telling everybody who comes, “Yeah, you’ve got a chance to be a lawyer,’ when as a matter of academic and test performance, that’s not the case. Students who don’t excel are not going to be happy with the school, and word will get out. We are measured by outcome. You’re going to devalue the product that you’re offering.”