JDs Leave Torts Behind For Accounting

Graduates at Indiana University's Robert McKinney School of Law

Graduates at Indiana University’s Robert McKinney School of Law

‘No Relief’ For Law School Enrollment Slump

Declining law school enrollment and application numbers continue to be a concern for law schools across the country. The most recent state to make the news in this area is Indiana. The state’s flagship campus, Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, saw a 25% decrease in enrollment from 2010 to 2013. This past fall, they suffered another 10% decrease.
Enrollment also declined at Indiana University’s Robert H McKinney School of Law at IUPUI and Valparaiso Law School. The Indiana Institute of Technology recently opened a law school and had a third less students than projected. Schools across the state are trying nearly everything to stay afloat while trying to increase enrollment. They are not replacing retiring law school faculty; creating new legal programs for non-attorneys; devising more practical approach to legal education; and shifting more resources to recruiting. So far, it has all been to no avail.
One of the big reasons for this issue, of course, is debt. Starting law job salaries are 8% less than their peak in 2009. Average debt for law graduates at IU McKinney is 98,000. Notre Dame grads average $99,000, At IU Maurer and Valparaiso, it’s nearly $108,000 and $133,000 respectively.
Another issue is that law firms are not hiring like they once were. IU Maurer professor Bill Henderson told the Indianapolis Business Journal that corporate clients simply don’t want to pay for junior associates (jobs given to recent grads) to do their legal work anymore. As a result, there is less need for those positions.
Most law school budgets rely on tuition dollars from their students. When enrollment drops 35% (in IU Maurer’s case), there is a huge drop in revenue generated for the law schools.
Schools in Indiana and across the nation continue to try to be creative in how they recruit students and trim budgets. Despite this, the slump continues. Schools in Indiana will have to bear these losses this year and hope their efforts produce higher enrollments for the next class.
Source: Indiana Business Journal

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