Compared to one year ago, the applications at Duquesne University’s School of Law have dropped by 15 percent. Dean Ken Gormley said that he is not trying to find more enrollees though, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“We want to stick with our standards. We don’t want to admit students to fill seats if they may not succeed and pass the bar and be able to practice law.”
Across the country, law school applications have dipped by 11 percent in 2011 and 14 percent in 2012. This data is released by the Law School Admission Council.
Duquesne now offers course concentrations that permit students to focus in fields such as energy law, intellectual property and health care law. First-year curriculum now offers skills training and clinical practices in specialized legal issues for groups of veterans and prisoners.
“We need to focus on giving students practical experiences,” he said.
As of mid-January, application numbers have dropped by 20 percent compared to the same time in 2012, according to the Law School Admission Council. If the rate continues, the total rate for the year could drop by 38 percent.
The dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, William Carter Jr., said, “Certainly there’s the down economy for legal hiring of new graduates over the last couple years. There’s the issue of negative press in the mainstream, and the blogs about the economy and the state of legal education. And there is the issue of growing student debt. As someone still paying off his student loans, I understand that completely.”
Carter did not discuss application statistics about Pitt, saying, “fluctuate from week to week. We’re neither doing much better or much worse than the national trend.” In 2011, Pitt’s law school had 253 graduates. Data released by the ABA shows that 55 percent of the 2011 class had full-time, long-term jobs as lawyers nine months following graduation.
Carter said that the school will not be changing its marketing system because of decreasing numbers of applications. “I wouldn’t say our strategy is different in terms of the downturn. We continue to talk to students about all the good things going on here.”
Carter did say that the law school is working to provide its students with better exposure to legal skills using law clinics and the Pitt Law Academy.
“We’re training students to develop analytical and reasoning skills,” Carter said. “The question becomes as the market is changing: How do we best position students for the opportunities that are out there? We cannot create jobs, but we can position students best for the jobs that are there.”