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In this corner, standing in Evanston, Illinois-Northwestern University! And in this corner, with years of excellence-Harvard University! Ding! Ding! Ding!
The above narrative probably sounded like an introduction to a boxing match, right? With the numbers of enrollment dropping at law schools all over the country, the fight for the students with best academic credentials has turned into, well, a fight. One person who has seen this first-hand has seen this is Daniel B. Rodriguez, professor and dean of the Northwestern University School of Law.
“It’s insane,” Rodriguez said. “We’re in hand-to-hand combat with other schools.”
The old law school ways where students were at the mercy of the schools now finds itself flipped upside-down. Middle-tier schools such as University of Iowa and University of Arizona have reduced their tuition in order to entice students to attend their respective schools. Actions like this prove that the puppets have now become the puppeteer to the law schools, bargaining with the schools to lower the tuition cost in exchange for their commitment to attend their school.
So why has law school become a “buyer’s market”?
This economic recession we are still in today has reduced the number of legal jobs available. The bad state of the economy led to law firms cutting positions, which have not been restored. According to the American Bar Association, nine-months after graduating, only 57 percent of the 2013 class had full-time jobs that required passing the bar.
“Students are voting with their feet, and demanding a better deal,” Rodriguez said.
Some students, like Emily Trieber, have begun to view their relationship with their school as a business contract. After saving for two years she was accepted by the Rhode Island law school with a scholarship that lowered the annual tuition bill to $33,792. What she did next might take some by surprise.
“Then, I asked for more,” Trieber said. “It doesn’t hurt to ask.”
She ended up getting more and ended up paying only $20,000-$25,000 annually.
So with costs of going to law school being expensive, the interest in law school has declined. Schools have been working behind the scenes to trim some operations and possibly offer join degrees. Whether actions like previously mentioned help increase interest in the legal profession remains to be seen. In the end, it will just be a “wait and see” situation.