As we mentioned over Thanksgiving weekend, the number of people taking the October LSAT is at the lowest point since 1999.
It seems that people are finally, belatedly, getting the message. Going to law school is not a safe bet.
At least not for students. For faculty, teaching at a law school is one of the safest jobs you can have. The only people who lose their jobs at law schools are deans who anger the U.S. News gods, and even then those deans can usually still hang on as professors.
But the economics of running a law school might be turning. One law school has decided to downsize….
As Paul Campos has already predicted, a drop in applicants will hurt “independent” law schools — schools that are not attached to a larger university system — first. That is the case at Vermont Law School. The school isn’t affiliated with the University of Vermont, and with fewer people applying to the school, they’ve got to keep their budget in order. From the Boston Globe:
Vermont Law School is offering voluntary buyouts to staff and may do so soon with faculty as it prepares for what its president and dean says are revolutions about to sweep both the legal profession and higher education…
‘‘When our enrollment goes down, we have to downsize,’’ Marc Mihaly, the school’s president and dean, said in an interview. ‘‘No matter what, we’re going to see fewer on-campus JD students (traditional law students pursuing juris doctor degrees). And we have to adjust to that because we do not run deficits in this school.’’
Vermont has a renowned environmental law program. But I guess people are figuring out that going to law school to become an “environmental attorney” is kind of dumb.
Not all law schools are responding to the drop in applications with the same restraint. There’s a fun story out of Alabama that we mentioned in Morning Docket about how three law schools in that state are moving full steam ahead with admitting as many students as possible.
But as Winston Churchill (and Al Gore) once said about great calamities others tried to ignore, “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”
Prospective law students are starting to get a clue. The drop in the number of idiots applying to law school will have consequences for those institutions that are funded by the bad decisions of young people.
Vt. law school cutting jobs, preparing for changes [Boston Globe]