The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Law Schools Mull Whether they are Churning Out Too Many Lawyers, reports that despite greater student debt, fewer job prospects, layoffs, and reduced salaries, at least ten new law schools are planning to open their doors, in addition to the already 200 law schools that exist across the country. To alleviate some of the pressure on its overcrowded classrooms, The University of Miami School of Law has made an unusual offer to its accepted students: In return for a deferral and 120 hours of public service, students will receive a $5,000 scholarship.
In an email to accepted students, Dean Patricia D. White explained, “In these uncertain and challenging times the nature of the legal profession is in great flux. It is very difficult to predict what the employment landscape for young lawyers will be in May 2012 and thereafter.”
The recession has raised questions regarding the need for more law schools — and more law students. Administrators of current law schools tend to be critical of new competition. James R. Newton, vice dean for administration at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law Schools says, “There is no market justification for another law school. New York already has more law schools per capita than any other state, and legal employment is saturated, not expanding.”
However, Loren D. Prescott Jr. who is in charge of the law school planning effort at Wilkes University, insists that when the economy recovers, jobs will open up. “Should we deny someone the opportunity to go to law school, or to go to a school in their region, simply because we feel we know better about their chances of getting a job?”
Irrespective of the growing discussion amongst educators regarding the validity of more law schools, law school applications rose by 4.3%, and accepted students are eager to attend their selected school in the fall. Heidi B. Ship, who plans on starting Marquette University Law School this year, hopes for the best. “Law schools that are cutting people now will probably be rehiring by the time I graduate.”