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Whittier Law School Left with No Buyer, Forced to Close Doors
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Whittier Law

Summary: Whittier Law School will not be accepting a Class of 2017 and will close after its current students graduate.

Whittier Law School has been forced to close its doors. The school was unable to find a buyer so it will close down for good once their current students graduate. The College’s board of trustees announced the sad news on April 19.

  
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The law school was not happy about the board’s decision. Their statement read: “For more than 50 years, we have provided a high quality education to students of diverse backgrounds and abilities – students who might not otherwise have been able to receive a legal education and who are now serving justice and enterprise around the world. Sadly, our sponsoring institution needed to finish paving the path to ongoing viability and success. We believe this action was unwise, unwarranted, and unfounded.”

Faculty members are obviously trying to find a way to prevent the closure from happening. If the school closes, it would be the first ABA-accredited law school to do so. A group of professors has filed a temporary restraining order before the announcement was made, hoping to prevent it from being made but were denied because of the First Amendment. They are still pursuing legal action.

The professors claim that Whittier College promised to use the profits from the sale of the law school’s Costa Mesa campus of $35 million to support the law school. The profit was around $14 million, which would have gone a long way into supporting the school in Costa Mesa, California.

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The board of trustees claims to have exhausted all other options to keep the law school open, including selling the school, improving student outcomes, and redirecting resources. They started looking into alternatives in 2015 when their bar passage rates were dropping and employment outcomes were diminishing even with lower enrollment. Their enrollment numbers dropped from 700 to under 450 since 2010. Median LSAT scores also dropped from 152 to 146 during that time. In 2012, their bar pass rates were at 69 percent but are now around 38.1 percent for the class of 2015.

By July 2016, a law school and college task force had been formed to determine if closing the law school was the correct route. The law school group submitted its findings in September, stating that things at the school were improving so closing the law school would be detrimental to the school. The other task found similar findings. Student qualification and outcomes were on the up so future prospects were improving.



The board then moved to sell the school, entering into negotiations with another party to take over the law school. The sale of the building closed in March but by the middle of April, the party had elected not to take on the law school. It was then that the board voted to close the law school.

There are a number of law schools that have been experiencing financial difficulty. Indiana Tech Law School, an ABA provisionally accredited school, announced it will be closing in June. Thomas M. Cooley Law School closed it Ann Arbor campus. Other schools like Hamline University and William Mitchell College of Law merged to share resources.

Do you think a buyer will step in and save the law school? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about law school closures and mergers, read these articles:

Photo: Wikipedia.org



 

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