On Monday, the Northwestern University law school said that in order to combat the economic situation and market demands it will reduce class sizes by almost 10 percent. The law school said it was taking the step to broaden financial aid, keep tuition increases low, and help students to have reduced student loan burdens.
From the class starting in the fall, classes would be admitting at least 20-25 students less than in previous classes. The school believes this would help in rectifying the supply demand situation in the job market for new attorneys.
Keeping with last year’s pace of increasing tuition at only 3 percent, which is the lowest rate of increasing tuition year-on-year by the school in the last 40 years, the school also promised to increase the total funds available for financial assistance and loan repayment programs for students. The school aims to increase funds for student assistance by at least 25 percent over the next two years.
A survey conducted in November 2012, shows that Northwestern is not unique in cutting down the size of classes and trying to understand the pain of law students. The survey made by Kaplan Test Prep, published on November 19, mentions that at least 51 percent of law schools have cut size of the entering class and almost 63 percent attributed the decision to the waning demand for new law graduates in the job market. Another 28 percent had expressed that they would be cutting class sizes, which is reflected in the present decision of Northwestern University law school.
At the time, last November, Jeff Thomas, the director of pre-law programs at Kaplan Test Prep had said after the survey, “With the supply of new lawyers outpacing the available number of positions for new lawyers, this is the most critical time for legal education in decades. Our survey shows that law schools are taking much-needed action to better prepare new lawyers for the changing job landscape, while at the same time accepting fewer students.”
So, while the news of Northwestern University law school reducing its class size is welcome, it is not unexpected.