Harvard To 'Free The Law'

Denver University's Sturm College of Law

Denver University’s Sturm College of Law

How To ‘Grow’ Your Law School?

While some law schools survive, others thrive. In Colorado, the state’s only two schools continue to innovate and thrive. If you’re looking at rankings alone, the University of Colorado-Boulder School of Law has climbed the U.S. News Rankings from 47th in 2011 to 40th this year. During the same time, the Denver University’s Sturm School of Law has risen from 80th to 67th.
If you don’t think of the U.S. News rankings as an indicator of law school success or prestige, look towards enrollment. While national enrollment drops, CU-Boulder saw a 22% enrollment increase this year without sacrificing average LSAT or undergraduate GPAs. Meanwhile, at Sturm, when bar pass rates declined, the school stopped admitting below their 25th percentile for LSAT scores, instead of continuing to enroll students to fill seats—regardless of capability.
No, the schools aren’t ranked in the top 25…and might never be. But they’re doing things their peer schools are not—increasing enrollment when it makes sense and being bold enough to lose tuition dollars from smaller class sizes when it’s essential to raise bar pass rates. And it’s paying off.
This week, the American Bar Association Journal highlighted what the Sturm College of Law is doing right in an unstable climate for legal education. Denver Law is doing a few things some other schools of similar caliber could learn from. For instance, according to the report, more than a dozen faculty members “actively interviewed stakeholders in the profession” as part of a strategic planning process. They’re reaching out to those in the profession and asking what they want in recent grads.
They’ve also recognized and accepted who they are as a school. The report says they’ve realized that their school is not an “ivory tower” but a “hub” in the legal community. So they’ve flexed the muscles of the immediate alumni base and created internships similar to medical school residencies and in partnership with the University of Colorado’s School of Law.
The ABA Journal believes this is because leadership has taken a ‘growth mindset’ instead of a ‘fixed mindset.’ According to the report, a fixed mindset approaches the world believing intelligence and capability has been fixed. Conversely, growth mindsets approach the world believing in continued growth in intelligence and capability.
Another contributing factor has to be Colorado’s appeal. The state continues to boom because of its desirable location and lifestyle. Unfortunately, that’s an x-factor that schools in many other states cannot tap into. Still, schools can learn lessons on how to innovate and thrive by looking at Colorado’s law school’s actions.
Source: ABA Journal