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Two More Law Schools Under Financial Pressure

Another week, another couple of doom and gloom reports from two law schools. Just last week, the Charleston School of Law announced they would be making large spending cutbacks from this year’s commencement and may not enroll any 1Ls this fall.
This week, Pace Law School and the University of Massachusetts School of Law announced some serious financial issues. According to reporting by Above the Law, which was tipped by a Pace professor, “the law school ran nearly a $5 million deficit this year, and the dean has pledged to cut $2.1 million of that next year, with a combination of moves: the elimination of all sabbaticals, all research stipends, a 5 percent salary cut for senior staff and a 10 percent salary cut for all faculty.”
What’s more, the faculty source says they have been “forbade” to speak to the press about the cuts. Apparently the two pages that were passed out announcing the cuts have watermarks. One is visible and one is hidden.
These reports came days after The Boston Globe reported financial and admittance woes at UMass School of Law. According to the reports, the school mounted a $3.8 million deficit last fiscal year and the number is expected to grow this year. The school, which is not accredited by the American Bar Association, has decided instead of increasing enrollment for this year’s incoming class to decrease it by a third to 72 incoming 1Ls.
UMass School of Law was created to focus on making legal education affordable to a diversity of populations in hopes of attracting students who really want to be lawyers and then go into public service law. Interestingly, UMass School of Law took over Southern New England School of Law in 2010 despite much resistance and a failed attempt to do the same in 2005.
According to The Globe, private law schools in the state lobbied for UMass to not acquire the failing school in 2010 because of an inundation of lawyers and not enough jobs.
The main saving grace for the school would be full ABA accreditation, which is scheduled to happen in 2017. The school received provisional accreditation in 2012. Unfortunately, two important factors to receiving accreditation are financial stability and bar passage rates. On top of the growing debt, bar passage rates have been inconsistent, at best. In 2011, the school had a passage rate of 74 percent, then 54 percent in 2012, and 70 percent in 2013. The state average for Massachusetts is 88 percent.
Sources: Above the Law and The Boston Globe

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