ABA Journal


Business of Law

California law school to cut enrollment by 40 percent, lays off 9 staff members

Jul 9, 2013, 02:00 pm CDT


Wow...another law school I (and probably many readers) have never heard of.

By EsqinAustin on 2013 07 09, 2:32 pm CDT

the aba needs to order a bunch of these low rent law schools shut down to cut down on the thousands of new lawyers entering the market every year and bringing down billing rates with cut rate services. I'm tired of this.

By SAGLaw on 2013 07 09, 2:49 pm CDT

the ABA should never have accredited these law schools in the first. Reap what you sow

By whs on 2013 07 09, 5:58 pm CDT

@SAGLaw @whs You really shouldn't make assumptions about the quality of lawyers that graduate from schools like McGeorge. Some of the best, brightest and most successful attorneys working in Blue Chip defense firms in California graduated from that school. Partners no less...

By Cali Native, Esq. on 2013 07 09, 6:59 pm CDT

@Cali Native, Esq., you have a very different understanding of this school than I do. @SAGLaw and @whs, I could not agree more. Our profession is both glutted and dumbed down to horrifying levels.

By dhc on 2013 07 09, 10:18 pm CDT

I'm worried about what this will do to access to our justice system.

OK, just kidding. This is long overdue.

By Wine-Country_Dude on 2013 07 10, 2:41 am CDT

Most law schools in CA could probably cut their enrollment by at least 10%, and trim their faculty or cut salaries accordingly. The average full-time faculty makes well into the 6 figures, for a few hours work each week, and many consult on the side. Most of the profs I had in the 90's never even took the CA Bar, and few bother with any sort of CLEs, unless they also practice. So their life has been pretty cushy during the recent recession.

By BMF on 2013 07 10, 3:38 pm CDT

Cue the response from the professortariate and ABA - access to justice for the under served lower and middle classes, social justice, blah blah blah. The well-paid boomer academics who run the accrediting have shot themselves in the foot, though it was good while it lasted, and now the academy is getting pared. Too bad. When the GOP finally figures out that more law schools means more "I''ll take any case I can get" tort lawyers, the federal spigot for JDs will turn off. What then???

By Guest on 2013 07 11, 3:36 am CDT

Sadly, certain other law schools are virtually certain to admit those 600 mooncalves who were turned away from McGeorge, even if they have to add facilities to do it.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 11, 5:57 am CDT

They are reducing 40% to get down to 600 students. That must be quite a school. My alma mater graduates about 72 a year. I'm not really sure what to think about really big law schools.

By Pogo on 2013 07 12, 10:49 am CDT

As a grad of one of those "lesser known" law schools, I'm compelled to defend. It isn't so much the school, as it is the student. In practice, I've encountered just as many (or more) incompetents who attended "the right" law schools as I have those who attended a "low rent" school.

That said, I understand the sour grapes. I might be upset too, once I learned that I really didn't have to go $100K into debt to get my JD

By Cali_Esq on 2013 07 12, 11:16 am CDT

@SAGLaw @whs @dhc I respectfully suggest you do some homework before talking out the side of your necks. McGeorge has been around since 1924 and has been ABA approved since 1969. It's advocacy program and international law program are well-known and well-respected. Its alums include a former California Attorney General and the most famous baseball agent who is not affiliated Jay-Z. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy has been a member of its faculty for over 20 years and still continues to teach a summer program for the school. Although it recently took a big hit in the USNWR this past year, It was consistently ranked in the "top 100" law schools by USNWR for most of the past decade.

By Person who learns things on 2013 07 12, 12:45 pm CDT

Let's not quote the fact that a Supreme Court Justice is willing to take an overly large stipend, and in most cases a free, posh trip overseas to teach in an historic university setting, as indicative of the quality of a law school.

That said, its the people that run higher ed like big business, and those that profit off that idea, that are the problem, not the students.

By Learn a little more on 2013 07 12, 3:30 pm CDT

By Or in other words... on 2013 07 12, 3:33 pm CDT

As a McGeorge graduate, I don't delude myself into thinking it is a prestigious school. However, it provided an excellent legal education. I know that, because I had the opportunity to attend McGeorge and a highly ranked school.

I spent my third year of law school as a visiting student at a school ranked in the top 25, where I easily placed in the top 5%, while working close to 40 hours a week. The students admitted to the higher schools were not more intelligent than me. Instead, many had different backgrounds that gave them an edge in admissions. I worked full time through undergraduate school, supporting my small family. I had delusions of not needing a graduate level education too. These factors resulted in a lower GPA. On the other hand, many of the top-25 students were attending school on mom and dad's dime with no excuse for not getting straight A's. Many I talked to had never held a job. I am not bitter about that; I am glad they took advantage of the opportunity. But when on equal footing, I smoked most of them.

The professors at McGeorge were more demanding that the top-25 school. McGeorge students were also prepared for class, unlike the majority of the top-25 students. I felt like I had stepped back into undergraduate classes at the top-25 school.

In the job market, the local firms would hardly look at me because of the school I went to. Instead, they hired students of the top-25 school that ranked significantly lower than me. I picked myself up, landed a job at a small firm, and showed the big firm lawyers that I could play at their level. It sure put a smile on my face when one of the top-25 school graduates argued to me that a certain piece of evidence could not possibly be hearsay because it was in written form. This was just one of several experiences that made it clear that many of the top-25 students were lacking a basic knowledge of legal principles. Who had the better education?

By JCM on 2013 07 12, 3:41 pm CDT

I also want to add that, even as a graduate, I don’t have much loyalty to McGeorge. Yes, it provided a better education than I would have received at many law schools. I respect most of the professors that I had too. They were passionate about teaching. But I am not any more loyal to McGeorge than I am to any other business. I am glad to see the class size being downsized.

McGeorge also pulls a fast one on me (as many students I assume). After ranking 4th in my class the first year, they offered to renew my scholarship the second year. This was clearly to persuade me not to transfer to another school. With the opportunity to be on law review, I stayed and stupidly assumed that the scholarship pattern would continue into my third year, so long as my grades stayed the same. Despite the same grades, it didn’t. They offered nothing. They no longer needed to provide an incentive to stay there. So, with their reluctant permission, I became a visiting student at another school.

I don’t and won’t contribute to McGeorge when they come knocking on my door. I already paid tens of thousands of dollars for my education (even after two good scholarships). I don’t understand why people feel compelled to pay more.

They were also one of the schools listed in “Which law schools were most likely to yank merit-based scholarships?” posted by the ABA today.

Like many law schools, they are a business that made a lot of money on students listening to promises of great jobs. Luckily for me, my income quadrupled from my pre-law school income. But that is not the case with the majority of students.

I have no problem with making a lot of profit, but only when you can do it honestly. If the facts and the data from these schools were given in a more forthright manor, then I would say more power to you if people keep enrolling. I am glad to hear that enrollment is down. Prospective students are learning the truth about the major gamble that law school is. Especially at a lower ranked school. Law school is not for everyone.

By JCM on 2013 07 12, 4:01 pm CDT

at the end of the day, it's not so much about where you went to law school, but how business savy you are in's not even about what you know, but who you know...unfortunately this is the reality in the globally competitive profession...

By JJ on 2013 07 12, 4:19 pm CDT

If you practice in CA, you've heard of McGeorge. If you live in another state, well, UoP has no high profile athletic program; so you probably haven't heard of McGeorge's parent school (# 1 NBA pick years ago, Olowakandi, was from UoP).

I'm a McGeorge grad and my three years there were the best three years of my life. The school is separate from UoP and sits on a large beautiful campus in Sacramento. When I was there (98-01) the vast majority of students lived on-campus. It was a much different experience than attending a "commuter school," which most CA law school are. Tuition was reasonable when I attended too ($16k, $18k, $20k), which makes me much less bitter than many recent graduates.

By Perspective on 2013 07 12, 4:20 pm CDT

As a recent graduate of McGeorge, I can say that the professors there are highly qualified and really enjoy teaching and helping the students. McGeorge's ranking in the USN≀ rankings is more of a product of how bogus the rankings are than the quality of education one receives at McGeorge. The fact that the rankings still factor in the number of volumes in the law library shows how ridiculous they are. How many students at any law school use the books in the law library? When was the last time anyone Shepardized cases using the Shepard books? Every law student at every law school has access to exactly the same materials on Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg and etc. Every law student in this country studies the same cases for a given subject.
The rankings are a way to dupe clients of biglaw into believing that the attorneys at biglaw are better and thus worthy of bloated billing rates. Look at the attorney profiles on the biglaw websites. They are populated with "top 20" law graduates. As if an attorney who graduated from a law school ranked 80 or below doesn't know the law as well or cannot put a case together or some such nonsense. Many corporate clients have wised up to this business model and are not willing to pay exorbitant rates anymore. Thus, biglaw has had to become more efficient, i.e., doing more with fewer associates.
I saw the same phenomena as an undergraduate engineering student. The rankings meant nothing. Every student studied the same engineering classes regardless of which engineering school attended. The same goes for accounting, medical school or any other profession.
McGeorge probably has more graduates who are members of the judiciary than most law schools and is consistently competitive in the various inter-school moot court competitions.
McGeorge is not alone in reducing class size. Hastings in SF has reduced its class size (by 25%), as has Santa Clara University. Santa Clara is in Silicon Valley and has an excellent IP program with numerous adjunct professors from all of the well-known high-tech companies.
Reduction of class size is a product of the terrible economy caused by high tax rates and government regulation more than the quality of education. McGeorge is a fine law school regardless of the size of its enrollment or some manufactured ranking.

By Recent McGeorge Graduate on 2013 07 12, 4:32 pm CDT

As a graduate of a 4th tier school, I can say rankings are not necessarily a reflection of the quality of the school, much less the students who attend that school. Like many McGeorge students, I chose to attend my law school because of its mission and values (to train passionate lawyers to do good work for humanity, rather than to manufacture all the corporate counsel, personal injury, money-hungry, skill-lacking lawyers that overwhelm our profession).

That said, I'm glad to know McGeorge will be vetting students more carefully now. Law schools need to stop admitting all these privileged, middle and upper class kids fresh out of college, but devoid of life experience. I've seen more ethical "lapses" and incredible misconduct by lawyers who went to some great, highly ranked law schools. Utterly shameful.

By CUNY Grad on 2013 07 12, 4:38 pm CDT

To SAGLaw #2: Have you never heard of antitrust law? We live in a free-market economy; the ABA has to accredit law schools on a non-discriminatory basis, and the free market decides which ones succeed or not. The ABA has no legal authority "to order a bunch of these low rent law schools shut down," and if the ABA did take any steps "to cut down on the thousands of new lawyers entering the market every year," it would be an illegal cartel that would be sued by the Justice Department under the Sherman Act, as an unlawful attempt to indirectly fix prices. It astonishes me how many lawyers think that they should be insulated from the normal market forces of supply and demand.

By Law Prof on 2013 07 12, 4:46 pm CDT

CUNY Grad - I guess I am shallow. I went to McGeorge because it was the best law school I could get into based on my low GPA. It was all about the economics for me. I knew McGeorge was a gamble, but it has a fine reputation in California. Several big-law firms hire out of McGeorge in California, but it gets more difficult when you leave the state as I did.

By JCM on 2013 07 12, 4:48 pm CDT

I always find humor in the posts on these articles that attack the tier of a given law school. You sound like white trash in the antebellum south who have nothing going for them except not being black. "hey i'm unemployed but at least i didn't go to to a tier-three school like them folks, h'yuck!"

By You call this coffee!? on 2013 07 12, 5:13 pm CDT

"Reduction of class size is a product of the terrible economy caused by high tax rates and government regulation more than the quality of education."
"We live in a free-market economy; the ABA has to accredit law schools on a non-discriminatory basis, and the free market decides which ones succeed or not."

In my opinion, I would replace "high tax rates and government regulation" with "lack of government regulation which causes our economy to be stuck in a pattern of bursting bubbles, mostly due to a captured regulatory structure that is underfunded".

I would also replace "free market decides which ones succeeds or not" with "the federal student loan process and lack of regulatory structure means all have succeeded far longer than they should have".

But those are just my opinions.

By Locke? on 2013 07 12, 5:18 pm CDT

@Learn a little more, consider following your own advice - Justice Kennedy was a Con Law professor at McGeorge from 1963 until he was elevated to the Supreme Court 1988. He still occasionally visits the campus and lectures there.

By Person who learns things on 2013 07 12, 5:27 pm CDT

Those of you from the other 49, pay attention--

1. Cal law grads do not have to come from ABA-approved schools to pass the bar and practice. Some of us have 6-figure incomes from correspondence school degrees. Passion matters in CA. Those of us who understand that thoroughly learning the law, and treating our profession as a business can be successful outside of rankings. We did not become lawyers to play golf.

2. McGeorge was the famed Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. There are state law libraries in his name. Most people who say "I never heard of that" are people who've only heard of the Ivies and their state university.

3. This law school is located in Sacramento--the state capitol--and therefore politically connected, if its students are smart enough to take advantage of it.

4. Regardless of magazine rankings, it is curious as to why there is such a steep drop in enrollment. When you look at all the endless articles that list states with too many lawyers, surprisingly, amazingly, California is never on the list. One of my neighbors, a well-known, charismatic defense lawyer recently started his own law school. You can bet it isn't ranked or accredited. BUT, it already has a waiting list. ABA is way behind; brick and mortar is dying; the need for decent lawyers, document reviewers, etc. is increasing. What I'd like to see is the return of the $30K law degree so that people don't have to ship their documents overnight for review to India. The article, like many found here, seems geared to mindless parochial commentary rather than real discussion.

By o'yeh on 2013 07 12, 5:32 pm CDT

I graduated during the financial crisis with outstanding academic credentials from a top ranked ABA accredited school. I applied for thousands of jobs and received only several interviews and zero offers. In the end, I found nothing because I was -- as far as I can tell -- not from a well-connected family. My peers who succeeded admit they were were either (a) very luck, or (b) in most instances very connected to the community in which they obtained their position. The third cadre most likely lied on their resumes. The only jobs I have found so far have treated me not as a professional, but as a commodity. I was fired from one job because I refused to lie to a client; at another, I was fired after raising note of a billing discrepancy. If it weren't for my devout religion and strong connections to family and friends, I would most likely have taken my own life. I am not suicidal, but I have begun to comprehend why so many have become desperate (given the countless articles about Americans taking their own lives due to the burdens of student debt). My family barely survived the atrocities of World War II; I have serious doubts I will have any children due to my decision of attending law school.

By Avoid Law School on 2013 07 12, 6:42 pm CDT

600 1Ls does not necessarily translate into 600 3Ls at McGeorge. I have heard that the McGeorge accepts many students, but only allows about a third to graduate. Is this still the practice at McGeorge? Do any other schools still follow this practice? I am not being critical, but merely curious (and support strong disclosure of these statistics).

By William Able on 2013 07 12, 7:00 pm CDT

@ Avoid Law School
It's so sad you're decision to have a family has been nearly decided because you wanted to become a lawyer.

I. Hear. That.

I am lucky enough to have a job (and a lawyer job at that), but I only make $40K a year -- after nearly 4 years of working with the same company, and working far more than full-time. This is not enough to pay much of my $150K in student debt, much less save for retirement or plan to start a family. My future is frightening as all get out.

Passionate lawyers desperate to do good work, or to do any work, are commonly taken advantage of nowadays. We are treated not like lawyers who should be compensated for their work ethic and commitment, but instead, are given inadequate training, inordinate amounts of work, little supervision, and insultingly low pay. We are told that if we love the work, we should not expect to make living wages. If I had no debt, $40K could be a living wage.

Instead, my future looks difficult and void of anything but my work. It's really a sad situation. Yet I still love the work and the clients, so I keep doing it.

By If Only People Knew on 2013 07 12, 7:13 pm CDT

Abraham Lincoln did not attend a top tier law school but he turned out okay. Some lawyers do not need the Ivy League pedigree for success. Rather they rely on their own abilities and determination to succeed in life.

By david byers on 2013 07 12, 7:58 pm CDT

I graduated McGeorge in 03 (w/ Dist.) and amongst other benefits was harassed in Conn Law class & threatened with extreme physical violence by a 'martial artiste' Professor (meyer) - for daring to Support Justice Scalia in class discussion of phony tony kennedy's prior homages to Dred Scott - Romer / Lawrence...

Oh - and had my Alumni benefits revoked after I complained about the Threats - without charges, process or appeal - which is pretty much the norm for Thought Police actions in the People's Republik of Kalifornia.

Hence, the school is every bit as MISANDRIST (Hateful to Men, Masculinity and Normal Heterosexuality) as the rest of the UC System, and the Male Rape Baiting former CA attorney general, Bill 'Wild Bull' Lockyer is an 'honored' grad who carries on the tradition:

SEE: 'Hi, My Name Isn't Justice, Honey,' and Shame on Lockyer

McGeorge is located in a rough part of sacratomatoe (I spent three years full time living on campus) where the occasional drive by punctuates the night in the park across the street, but that is more a function of the proximity to the Capitol - where a demicrat machine in itself unfit to pass gas sets the tone.

As for Size - there is a considerable nIght school contingent, often political hacks looking to upgrade their credentials, and the day division ran about 300 to start with, and the herd thinned quickly.
McGeorge is also known for its tough grading, which discourages those depending on the grade inflation that permeates the UC System. It is also Private -meaning a lot more expensive than the subsidized farces like UCI and Chemerinsky run.

As a school however - it was actually a pretty good place, quite beautiful and conductive to learning. Kind of an oasis in the middle of river city, and the whole site is a dedicated Law school (as opposed to a law building on a big campus) which actually affords many benefits.

I learned a lot there - but the biggest lesson was the truth of the age old statement that: " Those who respect the 'law' And Or enjoy sausage, should never watch either being made."

I submit that includes lawyers too, wherever they graduate from.

By Mike McD on 2013 07 12, 8:14 pm CDT

Regarding your comment (#21) "Prof," I appreciate your information, but disagree with your view. The so-called "free market " has brought people to a deeply too draconian hole of sorrow and frustration, and it is not so much a question of what there is legal authority to do but an issue of what there should be legal authority to do: there should be legal authority to prevent people who are interested in practicing a profession from being economically sacrificed to a system of transfer payments favoring, in the case of many graduates, their law schools, law professors, and government among others.

I note here that just as the market, in this case, the buyers of legal education, begin to ameliorate this oligopolistic, elitist nightmare by declining to join the legal profession as lawyers, law professors are proposing two-year programs and other devices to prevent the correction and save their jobs. However, there is no doubt in my mind that if two-year programs were adopted, the price of legal education would continue to rocket, and students might be cheated: paying just as much and more for less education and training and being required to do legal work a year sooner and longer.

Higher education's costs have increased so drastically, in excess of the government's own standards of intervention on inflation in other areas, that it is hard to ignore the smell signaling that at least some of the pot is from a stew of price fixing, gouging, and looking the other way, which you are correct about in the sense that the government appears to be powerless to do anything to flush it as long as it keeps plugging its nose.

By WellWell on 2013 07 12, 10:45 pm CDT

@30 Abraham Lincoln was murdered by being shot in the head, an assassination witnessed by a multitude of horrified theater-goers. A vast portion of the nation was deeply grief-stricken, and we are left with countless "what if Lincoln had lived..." scenarios that start with avoiding the terrible administration of Andrew Johnson.

Some might question whether that counts as turning out OK.

Also, things were different 150+ years ago. In case you haven't noticed the decline in buggy-whip sales and Indian massacres.

By quilty on 2013 07 13, 11:33 am CDT

Indeed, the Indian massacres are nearly concluded (apart from a few police departments still working the project). However, I do not think I have seen a scenario where Lincoln would have avoided assassination with a top tier law degree (he probably would have been killed sooner).

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 13, 1:08 pm CDT

The most surprising thing about this article is that it took over 36 hours for B. McLeod to say "mooncalves" in response to it.

By Voice of Reason on 2013 07 15, 4:31 pm CDT

@21 Law Prof,

You wrote" It astonishes me how many lawyers think that they should be insulated from the normal market forces of supply and demand." That VERY rich coming from a law professor whose salary is only possible due to unlimited, no-questions-asked federal student lending. Get rid of GradPLUS loans, restore bankruptcy rights for private student loans, and let's see how willing the gods of market forces are to keeping law schools solvent.


For those of you, o-yeh, from California, it may be worthwhile to brush up on your capital / capitol distinctions. Just FYI.

By Unemployed Northeastern on 2013 07 15, 7:19 pm CDT

Whoa Dude - Like Surfs Up in the Gnarly Rips on the Dictionary man.

Unless twere intended as a Capital Diss, with a P.... In which case see below.

BTW - McGeorge is close enough to the State Capitol Building itself, that you don't even have to flush twice to reach the inbox of such luminaries of a legislative body itself unfit to pass gas, as Senator Mark "Kiddie Porn King" Leno and the rest of his 'Larry Brinkin Posse'.

Definition of CAPITOL (Websters)
a : a building in which a state legislative body meets
b : a group of buildings in which the functions of state government are carried out

US Capitol Visitor Center: Welcome

By Mike McD on 2013 07 15, 7:56 pm CDT

Yes, yes, Mike - lawyers don't need to know the distinctions between capitol and capital, principle and principal, affect and effect, etc. Such words never appear in, like, a brief, or a will, or like, whatever.

For those who have forgotten, Mike McD clumsily wrote

"This law school is located in Sacramento—the state capitol—and therefore politically connected"

By Unemployed Northeastern on 2013 07 15, 11:30 pm CDT

Ryte, but we awl nu whut he ment.

By B. McLeod on 2013 07 15, 11:32 pm CDT

Rong - but hiz hurt was in the ryte place...

Cuz I done also said: "McGeorge is located in a rough part of sacratomatoe (I spent three years full time living on campus) where the occasional drive by punctuates the night in the park across the street, but that is more a function of the proximity to the Capitol..."

The Capitol (as in the seat of state government dys-function itself) - being real real close in physical proximity no less; too close if you ask me.

Some might even think that I spelled Sacratomatoe Rong two; but they is pobably ignrnt bout education in the People's Republik of Kalifornia.

Where two Rongs do make a Civil Right - in a demikrat legislative body itself unfit to pass gas.

By Mike McD on 2013 07 16, 4:27 pm CDT

My career (real estate/title lawyer) was impacted more by the courts allowing non-attorneys to practice real estate law than by the number of available lawyers.

I don't know if the same holds true in other areas of practice, but I firmly believe that the courts need to get some balls and stand up for the profession.

The reduced income is, of course, a concern; but I believe it is secondary to the fact that non-qualified and non-credentialed individuals are making legal determinations regarding the legal status of real property. I personally believe that this was a significant factor in the collapse of the economy.

By Non-Practicing Attorney on 2013 07 16, 8:19 pm CDT

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