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Enrollment Decreases and Increases Reported at the University of New Mexico School of Law
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Although law school enrollment has dropped significantly nationwide, the University of New Mexico School of Law has reported that it has seen some increases, although it has dropped overall.

Summary: Although law school enrollment has dropped significantly nationwide, the University of New Mexico School of Law has reported that it has seen some increases, although it has dropped overall.

The University of New Mexico School of Law is reporting that its applications may have decreased overall over the past few years, but that each year, its numbers are getting better. The Albuquerque Journal has reported that the law school has suffered a decline in applications, but its outgoing dean, David Herring, says that the school is handling it well.

  
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Herring announced he was stepping down as dean at the end of April.

Nationwide, law school applications have declined by a whopping 60 percent over the past five years. However, UNM Law has seen a five-year drop of just 30 percent through the fall of 2015, according to Herring.

Although many law schools have been forced to cut faculty or reduce enrollment, UNM maintains that its enrollment is stable. In fact, the law school is even considering hiring new staff or adding programs for students. Herring commented, “We’re sort of the oasis in legal education.”

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According to Herring, the law school has always had a small and steady enrollment figure of roughly 115 students, and it is a low cost school that offers its students experiential learning. UNM School of Law News reported that the students are given the opportunity to have hands-on experience in depositions and court hearings and receive feedback from local attorneys and judges on their performance.



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Monica Newcomer-Miller, a recent graduate, agreed with the statements about the school. “A large part of it was the cost. It was cheaper to come to New Mexico and pay out-of-state than stay in Indiana and pay-instate for three years. And the clinical law program was also a draw for me.” Newcomer-Miller moved her family from Indiana in 2012 to attend the law school.

The school recently dedicated an edition of its law review journal to “Breaking Bad.”

Additionally, Newcomer-Miller said she had a job lined up in May when she graduated. Newcomer-Miller’s studies focused on immigration law.

Newcomer-Miller

Newcomer-Miller

Recent rankings have bumped UNM Law up four spots to number 18 for the year 2015. According to a separate article by the Albuquerque Journal, this places the law school ahead of UCLA, Georgetown University, and Boston University. According to the report, students also rated the school as an A+. The law school boasts the lowest tuition and the highest employment rates of closely-ranked schools, according to both the American Bar Association and the recent rankings. Tuition is roughly $16,000 per year, whereas other closely-ranked schools cost students anywhere from $23,000 to $54,000 per year. Its job placement is an impressive 97 percent.

Herring first joined the school two years ago. At that time, it was the fourth-smallest law school in the nation in terms of student enrollment. Now, it is number 18, but this is primarily due to the fact that other law schools have decreased their numbers.

Herring said, “New Mexico has an edge. A lot of schools want to be New Mexico.”

However, Albuquerque Business First paints a slightly different picture of the law school. It states that applications have not suffered a serious decline, although they have noted a decrease over the past four years from 921 applications to 695 this year thus far. Jeffrey Dubinski-Neessen, the assistant dean for admissions at the law school, explained that applications have actually increased by 9 percent this year, and that applications are still being accepted. Visiting students and transfer students have until July 1 to apply.

The school has apparently seen a year-over-year increase in applications, despite the overall decrease.

Dubinski-Neessen said, “Last year we were steady [in applications] from the year before and this year we’re at a 9.27 percent increase over last year’s total applications. We could potentially be even higher. Nationally, applications are down by more than 4 percent, so for us to be up is a pretty good indicator that the law school is in a good place.”

Last year, a student group at the school was investigated for an unsanctioned bank account.

In 2014, 636 students applied to UNM Law. This year, the application figures almost match 2012 application numbers. According Dubinski-Neessen, the wavering numbers are due to national trends and the out-of-state job market that resulted from the recession. However, the numbers alone cannot explain the school’s enrollment situation. Dubinski-Neessen noted that the resident applicant numbers have remained roughly the same, while non-resident applications have decreased a bit.

Dubinski-Neessen commented, “I am optimistic and I’m looking forward to maintaining this steady increase [in applications] and maintaining the number of New Mexicans that are applying. We have a greatly great communications plan that shares the important parts of our program to prospective applicants. I think that will continue to improve in the future.”

Source: Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque Business First

Photo credits: lawschool.unm.edu



 

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