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Higher-Ed Market Analyst Suggests Consolidating Law Schools
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Summary: One expert explains that struggling law schools would serve better to work together and become one in the damaged legal education industry.

The market has turned around slightly for law schools compared to a few years ago. The lack of enrollment numbers and increasing cost of tuition has bottomed out so there is no place to go but up. This trend is showing in application numbers but the numbers are not good enough to support a strong legal education industry.

  
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Law schools at all levels are resorting to accepting students with lesser LSAT scores in order to meet their enrollment numbers and keep the money coming in to pay for the programs. Professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania, Robert Zemksy, doesn’t think schools or the industry will last at this rate. Based on his research, he predicts that several schools will be forced to close.

Zemsky looked at 171 law schools to find that enrollment numbers have dropped 21 percent at private law schools in the past five years and 18 percent at public law schools. He also looked at the market price per student in relation to scholarships and grants to learn the costs that each student represents. As he explains, “You’d think the least attractive school would charge the lowest price. What they’re doing is admitting students with relatively low LSAT scores, and charging them a high price for gambling on them.”

His prediction that 10 to 15 law schools will close is based on the fact that schools put themselves in a risky situation by admitting students with lesser test scores that have very little chance of success in the school and in the career. Many law schools are already losing money, turning to staff cuts as a way to counter the loss.

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Zemsky wants to see the ABA set up and help law schools consolidate even though no other industry accreditor has become involved like that. He said, “The ABA could be helpful, but at the moment it’s not. It’s a scorekeeper rather than a helper, and I think the market needs some help.”

Do you think that the struggling law schools should look into consolidating with others in order to share resources? Tell us in the comments below.



To learn more about law school enrollment trends, read these articles:

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