Throughout the past few weeks, several law schools have been hit hard by the realities of the market for legal education — there have been faculty layoffs and buyouts galore. We suppose this is what happens when people stop applying to law school in droves. Rather than offsetting the financial losses by charging higher tuition, most schools are “rightsizing” themselves by cutting faculty positions they deem unnecessary, a big blow to those ivory-tower elites who believed their jobs were secure.
But because nothing in the legal profession is very secure anymore, today we’ve got news of layoffs from a public law school facing major budgetary issues thanks to a gigantic funding gap across the entire university system.
Which law school could it be? Keep reading to find out…
It’s none other than the University of Maine, the 129th best law school in the country (stuck in a tie with five other schools) according to U.S. News. Let’s not forget that Maine Law also boasts the highest-paid public employee in the state. Congratulations on your nearly $300K salary, Dean Peter Pitegoff!
Anyway, Maine’s tuition is already quite low at $23,560 in-state and $34,630 out-of-state — “the lowest among peer law schools in New England,” actually (though it could be much lower) — so of course faculty and staff jobs were on the line. Here are the details from the Portland Press Herald:
The University of Maine School of Law eliminated three law library positions in a cost-cutting move, officials announced Monday.
School officials had earlier announced the elimination of the Maine Patent Program, a free offering that helps inventors protect their intellectual property. Two people operating the program, which had a budget of about $240,000 this fiscal year, were laid off and the program will end at the end of this school year.
Altogether, the cuts result in a savings of $566,254, about 7 percent of the law school’s projected $7.7 million budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The downsizing is due to a funding gap of $36 million, caused by a lack of state funding, declining enrollment, and tuition freezes in place for about three years. In addition to the cuts, other staff members have had their hours scaled back and another position will go unfilled, according to Dean Pitegoff. This is, dare we say, entirely reasonable, so long as students aren’t suffering due to a lack of resources.
Apparently Maine Law students won’t be left wanting, per the Press Herald:
The law library will be reorganized with seven remaining staff members, without any changes to its hours or services, officials said. There are no program changes as a result of the cuts.
Best of luck to those losing their jobs. Use your last paycheck to treat yourselves to a fancy lobster dinner.
UMaine law school cuts three library positions [Portland Press Herald]