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First Law School Concession: Hamline and Mitchell Merge
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law school merger

Summary: St. Paul’s law schools, William Mitchell College of Law and Hamline University School of Law, have announced they are merging.

Considering that we haven’t seen so few first years enroll to law school since 1973, when there were 26 percent fewer law schools, we are finally seeing what so many have predicted: a law school closing. Sort of.


Though Cooley closed a campus do make concessions for lowered enrollment, this is the first law school merger we’ve seen in a long time. William Mitchell College of Law and Hamline University School of Law, which operate about three miles apart from each other in St. Paul, have declared a cease fire, and after 10 years of informal talk about merging they got serious last September.

“It’s a bold move, for sure, and probably long overdue ,” said Richard Kyle, president of the Minnesota State Bar Association and a Mitchell alumni.

The move indeed makes sense considering that law school enrollment has slipped 28 percent since 2010, nationwide, but 56 percent in Hamline and Mitchell – from a mutual 584 to 259 last fall.

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Naturally enough, Mitchell’s new leader, Mark Gordon, who will become president in July, played up the merger, saying, “I think it positions us to be a real national powerhouse.”

Though most classes will be moved to the Mitchell campus, Hamline will remain an active campus. The combined entity will keep the “nimbleness” of an independent school, while offering the advantages of a full-service university, such as an athletic facility.

What’s left is for the American Bar Association to accredit the new union.

David Wippman, dean of the University of Minnesota’s law school, approved the merger, regarding it as a model for the nation:

“I do think that the merger might serve as a bit of a model for schools in other parts of the country, and I certainly hope that’s the case.”

Though there have been premonitions of a legal market recovery, we may see more law school mergers, if not full out closings, in the next few years.

News Source: DL-Online


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