Law Schools

Law schools cope with declining enrollment by quietly cutting faculty


Faced with smaller enrollments, many law schools are quietly cutting faculty through buyouts, early retirement offers and canceled contracts with lower-level instructors.

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) has an article on the trend, most prevalent among middle- and lower-tier schools that are hardest hit by dwindling interest in law school. The story notes data from the Law School Admission Council showing that, as of July 5, applications for the entering class of 2013 were down 36 percent from the same time in 2010.

Given tuition and financial aid incentives, four or five students are generally needed to support one faculty member, the story says, citing an estimate by Texas Tech University law professor Eric Chiappinelli.

These faculty cuts are noted in the article:

• Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minn., has cut full-time faculty about 18 percent since 2010. Fourteen faculty members have left or plan to leave after accepting early retirement incentives.

• Eight professors at Vermont Law School have agreed to retire early, take pay cuts or give up tenure.

• Twenty-one professors accepted buyout packages at Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Del., and Harrisburg, Pa.

• Seven professors accepted early retirement packages from the University of Dayton School of Law.

• Seven untenured professors at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, N.J., have received notice that their contracts might not be renewed for the 2014-15 academic year.

• The University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, Calif., is accelerating plans to cut the size of the law school and use some of its campus for other graduate-level classes.

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