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How Soon Before Law Schools Start Closing?
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ann arbor first to close

Summary: As law schools are doing more to raise enrollment than in 2009, there is indication some law schools may soon close.

Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley School of Law was the first of what may soon become a trend: they closed their Ann Arbor campus, some what of a diploma mill, to answer the deflating enrollment rates. They are all feeling it. Law schools across the board are making concessions and devising ways to get through the difficult legal market in the somewhat hope it will get better soon.

  
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As Northwestern University School of Law Dean Daniel Rodriguez told the New York Times, “I don’t get how the math adds up for the number of schools and the number of students. We all know it’s happening, and we are all taking steps that urgent, not desperate, times call for.”

These “urgent” times mean changing the tone of law school to a buyer’s market. “74 percent of first-year students this academic year received financial aid, compared with only 30 percent in 2009,”the New York Times reported, and University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Jerry Organ made the comparison of law schools to dental schools, which went through their own crisis after reaching a height in 1979. Due to changes in consumer needs for dentistry, demand declined, and eventually schools had to close.

Which law schools? Just the diploma mills? Actually, those who score middle to high range on the LSATs who are losing interest. With 204 accredited law schools competing for these students, Rodriguez admitted that, “It’s insane. We’re in hand-to-hand combat with other schools.

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Campuses like Wayne State University of Law School are offering a minimum $4,000 scholarship for incoming students and upwards to $1 million in scholarships for current students. Northwestern likewise is offering 74 percent of 1Ls scholarships, up from 30 percent in 2009. This is consistent with many other schools.

If the analogy between the legal crisis and the dental crisis of 1985 hold, we can expect some schools to fold. This, ultimately, might be good for the legal sector, as fewer students will be flooding the market, with fewer disappointments, leaving space for those who want to be there most. Considering that only 57 percent of 2013’s graduates had found employment requiring passing the bar, 9 months out, putting fewer JD’s out there might answer the law of demand the legal sector is making right now. Fewer lawyers are called for, so let’s put fewer out there.





 

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