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Rutgers Reveals Drop in Enrollment, Typical of Law School Environment

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Though official reporting for the 2012-2013 school year is not complete, several schools are reporting a decline in enrollment. An informal survey conducted by the Philadelphia Business Journal revealed that Rutgers School of Law-Camden is facing an enormous drop in student enrollment over the last year, and that this is indicative of declining enrollment at law schools across the country.

John Oberdiek, Vice Dean of Rutgers Law-Camden, told the Philadelphia Business Journal that between 2007 and 2011, the school had between 216 and 282 first year law school students. In 2012, the school only had 116 students, which is one of the most sizable declines in the country.

While law schools across the country are facing declines in enrollment, none were as substantial as Rutgers-Camden. Oberdiek credits this decline to the school’s potential merger with Rowan University which scared students away from applying to the schools in 2012. Though the merger was eventually called off by the New Jersey State Legislature, the discussion was enough to make potential students question the school’s long-term stability. In 2014, Rutgers-Camden will merge with the Newark Rutgers school, and the two schools will have identical admissions standards.

“The applications stopped coming when the merger talk started,” said Oberdiek. “We were supposed to become the Rowan law school and no one wanted a Rowan degree. So we faced an existential threat and had to rebuild in the worst legal economy of my lifetime.”

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For Rutgers-Camden, enrollment is expected to improve. Oberdiek said that more than 116 students have already made deposits to enroll for the 2013-2014 school year.

Data released by the Law School Admission Counsel (LSAC) suggests that, in 2013, law school applications are down 18.6 percent from 2012 at institutions across the country.

The Philadelphia Business Journal also spoke with a few other law school deans about enrollment for 2012-2013. Temple University’s Beasley School of Law and Villanova University School of Law both saw a significant drop in enrollment, losing 73 and 34 students, respectively. Both schools admitted that their 2013-2014 enrollment numbers will be lower. University of Pennsylvania Law School and Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law have both maintained enrollment levels over the last several years.

  • John Oberdiek

    It is worth emphasizing that Rutgers-Camden survived last year’s attempt by Rowan to take over the campus, including the law school, as noted here:
    http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2012/07/rutgers-camden-dodges-the-bullett.html.
    In fact, Rutgers-Camden Law is one of the small handful of law schools that have seen
    an increase in applications this year.

  • KM

    Will it survive this year’s scare now that NJ State President Sweeney proposed Bill S2902 which would axe the nearly 250-year-old Rutgers Board of Trustees? If this happens, the schools is again vulnerable and open to attack. As a prospective law student, I wouldn’t want to attend Rutgers-Camden Law since it’s long-term stability is in question.

  • grifhunter

    Rutgers Camden deserves better than being a political pawn in the NJ State higer education power struggles. It is a first rate school that produces excellent lawyers with a higher than average bar pass rate. Plus, the tuition for in state students makes it a bargain.

  • heresmycomment

    Rutgers is not really any different from any law school
    outside the top 20 or so. They ALL lied about employment statistics. Now the ABA requires them to disclose meaningful statistics. The latest statistics show that only around 55% of law students nationally students were able to obtain
    full-time jobs requiring a law degree 9 MONTHS after graduating. Highly likely that Rutgers is no different. Is it any surprise that enrollment is plummeting with statistics like that. Gee, let me spend 3 yrs ($100k or more) for a roughly coin toss of shot at a job.

    George Washington, which is around a top 20 school used to (Until they got caught) employ around 20% of its class in some clinic where the graduates (i.e., mostly new licensed attorneys) for around 7 months and pay them $10/hour. They would do this just so they could submit that 95% of their claiss was employed because it effected the US NEWS Rankings. As soon as the surveys were turned in the students were let go. These are the games that almost every law school was playing. Another game they all used to play was counting students as employed if they were working at Dunkin Donuts or Walmart. Most of them were not doing anything illegal, but a lot of it was certainly very unethical.

    This is why enrollment has plummeted nationally and at Rutgers and other Philadelphia area schools

    Overall colleges (undergrad and graduate) are BIG BUSINESS. Whenever a big business is not required to disclose meaningful data, competition and a lack of ethics will push them to manipulate the data and come as close to committing fraud without crossing the line. Some law schools like Widener have been sued for fraud. Now exactly where that line is between putting a positive light on data and doing something unethical is not always clear. However, we all know you have crossed the line to unethical when you send students letters saying we have 95% employment when you know only half of the graduates are getting a job in law and you also know that students are taking $150k in debt. And you definitely crossed the line to unethical when you employ 20% of graduating class just so you canr eport them as employed for a survey that effects the US NEWS Rankings.

    Moral of the story. Push for more transparency. It
    has come to law schools and believe me it is a blessing. Enrollment probably needs to drop another 20% or more nationally and then students (outside T-14) will be able to make a rational decision about attending law school.
    Some law schools may need to close. The transparency needs to go to undergrad as well. The $1 TRILLION student loan bubble is either
    currently bursting or is about to burst. More likely than not taxpayers (i.e., YOU) will be left holding at least part of the bag. And it is just
    inefficient for society for people to waste time and money on degrees where
    they will have a very difficult time finding a job.

    If you want real statistics about lawschools, go to lawschooltransparency.com. Each law school will disclose the statistics somewhere on its website, but they will probably try to bury it on some hard to find link.

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Andrew Ostler Posted by on June 7, 2013. Filed under Law School News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

 

 

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