Monday, December 11, 2017
 
A Law School Announces It Will Close, Another Sign Lawyer Glut May Ease

WASHINGTON, D.C. Nov. 16 (DPI) – Valparaiso Law School in Indiana announced this week that it plans to close its doors, the second US law school to begin winding down operations this year.

There are more than 200 accredited law schools in the US, and experts – and even working lawyers – say it will take a few more closings to address the oversupply of law graduates entering the profession.

Whittier College’s law school in California announced earlier in the year that it would stop admitting new students. Valparaiso’s law school had only 29 full-time students entering the recent semester, a decline of about 80% from only four years ago.

One trend that may accelerate law school closings is the average level of indebtedness among law graduates, which has increased steadily over the last two decades.  Another factor is that law schools, especially bottom tier law schools, have been producing graduates who can’t pass a state bar exam. “It is not necessary to train so many lawyers and the system is failing students who expect a better life to come with the degree,” one reader posted today.

Reader comments on the Wall Street Journal site recognize the problem:

I remember in the late 90s there were more people in law school than there were lawyers at the time.  The market is glutted, and will be for the next 30+ years I’d imagine, as once you have that law-school debt it’s not like you can afford to go back to school for something else.

I expect to see more law school closings in the next few years.  The quality of students entering school has fallen off quite a bit over the last 30 years.  In Oregon, less than 1/2 of new lawyers have a full time job in the profession one year after passing the bar.  And, only 65% passed the bar.  So you have 35% of a graduating class unable to pass the bar.  One year later 35% of the graduating class has a law related job on a full time basis.  Student loan debt per student is likely over $100,000.  It is not necessary to train so many lawyers and the system is failing students who expect a better life to come with the degree.

 

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