May 1, 2012

"The Shrinking Law School."

Downsizing.

13 comments:

David said...

Money quote: " No faculty members lost their jobs."

Proving again who schools are run for.

ndspinelli said...

Shut down all law schools for 5 years. It's time to thin the herd and this is more humane than the other means of culling.

Damon said...

David, there was a cut in administration jobs. Schools need to reduce the bloat in administration that has crept in over the last decade before even considering cutting faculty.

Nowhere in the article was expense hinted as a reason for downsizing.

Patrick said...

Actually, spinelli, I was wondering how long the law schools could shut down before anyone really noticed. I would think that it could be longer than 5 years.

Dave said...

Faculty are the useful and functional part of the University. It's all the extraneous deans and asst deans etc that account for the bloat in academics. The faculty is blamed (unfairly) because they're visible to the public. In the biological sciences faculty generally bring in $ to the University (via grants). The marble floors and lushly appointed rooms are found in the admin buildings, in my experience.

ndspinelli said...

Patrick, We need some lawyers, and if we close them down for say 15-20 years then we may end up w/ a bunch of incontinent senile ones[many lawyers work into their 80's] and a bunch of rookies. But, lets give it a try anyway. I'm game.

Bruce Hayden said...

Faculty are the useful and functional part of the University. It's all the extraneous deans and asst deans etc that account for the bloat in academics. The faculty is blamed (unfairly) because they're visible to the public. In the biological sciences faculty generally bring in $ to the University (via grants). The marble floors and lushly appointed rooms are found in the admin buildings, in my experience.

I go a couple of different ways here. One of the things that has been driving up higher ed costs faster than almost anything else is the administrative bloat. Maybe the biggest factor.

But, not all faculty contribute, or contribute equally. In law schools, you don't really have the faculty who go off and do research for awhile and pretty much don't teach (and, may or may not have that non-teaching covered by grants). What I think you do have is some bloat - senior faculty who teach specialty courses that don't pay for themselves. That sort of thing. I don't know what Wisconsin does, but do know that some law schools are now buying their senior faculty out.

Of course, the easy way to reduce the economic pressure on law schools would be to allow more practicing lawyers and part time people teach classes (i.e. adjunct faculty). Of course, they can't do so because of ABA accreditation...

Flipping this though, one of the reasons that there has been a boom in law schools and law school seats over the last decade or so esp. is that law schools are one of the few places in a university that are profitable. In the university where I received by MBA and JD, those two schools turn out to be the only colleges that are in the black, and, to some extent carry the rest.

I think that law and business schools are profitable because they both allow for large classrooms teaching routine subject matter. My 1L classes were bigger than my high school classes (I went to a small liberal arts college, and so 1L classes were bigger than all except some of my undergraduate intro classes). In contrast, most graduate classes in most other disciplines have minuscule class sizes.

I should also note that law and business alums have traditionally tended to be much more capable of giving to their alma mater. Maybe not in this generation, but traditionally, this has allowed universities to go to the alums of these colleges for stuff that they provide for other colleges - like new buildings.

Well, the gravy train is coming to an abrupt stop here. Should be interesting.

Bruce Hayden said...

We need some lawyers, and if we close them down for say 15-20 years then we may end up w/ a bunch of incontinent senile ones[many lawyers work into their 80's] and a bunch of rookies.

"Many" may work into their 80s, but most don't. By the time my father had retired, in his mid-70s, most of his classmates had already done so. One thing that drives retirement is malpractice insurance. Another should be CLE - but at least here in Colorado, you apparently don't need to keep up there after maybe 70. And, that is the time when I think that they should maybe mandate doubling CLE requirements. Something like how some states start requiring new drivers' licenses (with vision tests, etc.) every three years instead of every decade or so after some age. I should note that my father, out of habit, kept up with his CLE requirements even when he no longer needed to.

Of course, I am less than a decade away from that age, and am sure that I will think that those silly CLE requirements should be waived when I get there. After all, if we don't know the law already, it probably isn't worth knowing. Something like that.

Mitchell said...

If the law school is shrinking then everybody ought to get out of the building before it's too late.

ndspinelli said...

Mitchell, You won both this thread and the Lenny Bruce one w/ witty comments. Keep 'em coming!

fleetusa said...

Certainly schools in general have too much invested in administrative staff and new buildings. Cutting the law school admissions would be a good start.

One thing more law schools should consider is to use part-time faculty. NYU excels at this but of course they are in the Big Apple. All my LL.M. Tax profs were part-time and just wonderful. Most other big city law schools should emulate that. They are cheaper and more experienced. Ms AA might not agree.

leslyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Friedman said...

Whatever they say their motivations are, it's all about rankings: not only does a reduced class size increase the proportion of grads who are employed, but it also (or so the faculties of law schools presume) eliminates applicants at the lower end of the qualification pool, thereby increasing the purported quality of the admitted students.

I suppose it's nice to know they're doing the right thing, but it's worth noting: law schools these days make their decisions based solely on the effect those decisions will have on their US News ranking. That truly is perverse.

And isn't it nice to know the faculty, who holds the authority, is reducing the class and thereby reducing revenue but making sure that no faculty positions are lost. Screw the staff. They're just working people.