- Applications to law schools have dropped almost 40% nationwide over the last six years, while enrollment has dropped by approximately 30%.
- Employability of recent law school graduates is down 10% over the last 10 years, while law school loan debt has increased from $95,000 to $112,000 between 2010 and 2014.
- According to The New York Times, 20% of the nation’s 200 accredited law schools have made some form of cuts in recent years, and many big legal firms that would have attracted entry-level attorneys from top law schools a decade ago have closed in recent years.
Economic downturn and shifts in academic innovation are causing great damage to professional degree programs and graduate schools, and the legal industry appears to be among the hardest hit in maintaining its pipeline of talent while balancing a sharp decrease in service provision.
This is not the first time law schools have faced questions about their vitality. Three years ago, The Atlantic reported on the decline, showing only law graduates of elite Ivy League and large public law schools would be able to find work and repay the large debt attached to the degree.
This narrative seems to fit the U.S. Department of Education’s narrative about seeking protection for students from crushing debt for degrees holding little value in the market place. For mid-sized and small schools, a formerly dominant degree program that could attract strong regional enrollment will now have to determine where they can better invest resources in recruitment and marketing.