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UMass Law Faces $3.8m Deficit, Cuts Incoming Class by Third
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school cuts third incoming class

Summary: The University of Massachusetts School of Law, faced with a $3.8m deficit, has decided to cut its incoming class down by a third.

The narrative of law school struggles continues, with the University of Massachusetts School of Law struggling to keep their noble goals alive amidst the reality of a relentless legal market where too many JDs are after too few jobs. They’ve accrued a $3.8 million deficit this last year, shattering the goals they promised when UMass took over the small private law school in 2010.They have decided to cut their incoming class by a third to manage this.


Though other private school had for a while successfully lobbied against the school becoming part of the state university, with the reasonable objections that the state did not need new law schools, more lawyers, nor the cost upon taxpayers backs of millions to support it, they were nevertheless finally absorbed into the school.

They at the time promised not to charge taxpayers anything, and further suggested their enrollment would more than double by 2017.

This failed to happen. Instead they’ve seen a $3.8 deficit, and next year looks to be worse.

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Nevertheless, their intention to provide education for a diverse group of students – which means more women and more minorities – all at a lower tuition rate, and this for making public service lawyers, remains at heart their goal and purpose, and in this regard Mary Lu Bilek, the school’s dean, remains confident that they will succeed.

She suggests that UMass president Martin T. Meehan will come through with last week’s pledge that they market the law school better.

“There are people who have had experience in the world and really want to be lawyers,” the dean said of their students, whose average age is 28 years old.

As for their diversity goal, it has been going well enough, with about half the students women, and 24 percent minorities.

They still nevertheless lack full accreditation from the ABA, a key factor in the long term health and viability of any law school.

With stats such as that 65 of their 81 grads from last year landed jobs, but only 31 that required bar passage, we see more of the same, more of the turmoil the legal profession is facing, and which schools like this inadvertently create, the whole time standing firmly by their ideals that they are a force for good.

The school wishes to “making sure that not only people born with silver spoons in their mouths are making the law,” and in this regard, many of their students identify low tuition as an initial lure to the school, with the supportive atmosphere and flexible professors keeping them there.

Whether the feel good cheap law school can survive in this market remains to be seen, but their dean, for one, remains hopeful.


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