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Study: Law School Faculty Sizes Jump 40%
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A study by The National Jurist reveals the average law school has increased its faculty size by 40 percent over the past 10 years. The rise in staff levels has accounted for 48 percent of tuition increases at law schools since 1998, the study said.

As a means of comparison, tuition at private schools has increased by 74 percent since 1998 and tuition at public institutions has risen by 102 percent.

According to some law school observers, the increases have been the result of two prevailing ideas: an increased need for specialization and improving a law school’s status in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of law schools.

  
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“Law schools tend to believe that their faculty reputation is driven by scholarship and they are very interested in U.S. News,” said William Henderson, a law professor at Indiana University Mauer School of Law. “Lowering your faculty-to-student ratio improves your [U.S. News] ranking and increases time for scholarship.”

Another reason cited for the faculty increase is a lower teaching load. In the past, instructors used to teach five courses, but generally that has been lowered to three.

“Professors are spending less time in the classroom,” he said. “Now whether that is a smart use of a social resource is another question. It is very expensive to pay for faculty research.”

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The report shows law faculty at 195 ABA-accredited law schools grew from 12,200 in 1998 to 17,080 in 2008. A subset of that total, the number of deans, librarians, and other full-time administrators who teach more than tripled, from 528 to 1,059.

Part-time faculty grew by 33 percent. As a result, the student-to-faculty ratio has dropped from 18.50-to-1 in 1998 to 14.9-to-1 in 2009. The study concludes that there are twice as many law professors per student today than there were 30 years ago, when the ratio was 29-to-1.





 

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