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Effects of Recession Causing Worry at Nation’s Law Schools

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The latest data from the American Bar Association shows that first-year enrollment for the fall of 2013 at law schools dropped by 11 percent from 2012. This is a portion of the 24 percent drop in three years, according to The Boston Globe. The incoming class was made up of 39,675 students, the smallest since the decade of the 1970s.

Suffolk University has offered buyouts to all faculty members who have tenure or who have renewable long-term contracts in an effort to offset a 15 percent drop in first-year enrollment from 2013. Western New England University has cut faculty members to accounts for its drop in enrollment.

Northeastern University and Boston University have also seen enrollment drop. Harvard University saw a decline in enrollment, but rebounded slightly over the past two academic years.

The Law School Admission Council released data that shows the number of applicants for this fall’s incoming class has dropped by eight percent from the same time last year.



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Richard P. Campbell, former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, told the Boston Globe: “It’s a complete structural change, and it’s not going away. The end result is fewer graduates, and fewer law schools.”

Since the fall of 2010, New England Law School in Boston has seen first-year enrollment drop by 40 percent. For the same period, Western New England saw a drop of 28 percent. The administrative staff was reduced, wages were frozen and buyouts were offered last year at New England Law School to offset the drop in enrollment. Dean John O’Brien took a pay cut of 25 percent voluntarily. To attract more students, Western New England has frozen tuition at $39,000 for the next four years.

“By reducing our expenses and developing new revenue, we are holding our own in a tough market,” said Eric Gouvin, dean of the law school.

With the recession in 2008, many lawyers found themselves out of jobs as the legal industry suffered greatly. This caused students to reconsider attending law school and the crunch hit schools across the country.

Vincent D. Rougeau is the dean of Boston College Law School. Rougeau told the Boston Globe: “Students are being cautious, having seen what happened. We’ve pretty much become accustomed to declines.”

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