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Law Schools Finally Wake Up To Reality

At least one law school is getting its head out of the sand. According to the WSJ, Northwestern University’s law school recently announced that it will cut its incoming class size by 10 percent:

“We’ve seen a decline in applications, and there’s clearly been a huge shakeout in the legal marketplace,” Daniel Rodriguez, the school’s dean, said in an interview. “This is the responsible thing to do—to look hard at whether we’re the right size.”

Northwestern is ranked 12th on the US News and World Report‘s best law school list. Admission to a law school in the top 14 is considered the holy grail, a guaranteed ticket to a good job. If other elite schools follow Northwestern’s lead, the decision is potentially game-changing.

If so, it’s coming none too soon. The job market for law is still over-saturated, and it was almost criminal that so many law schools were nonchalant about the large numbers of students with huge debt and no decent job. Northwestern’s decision is a good sign that the law schools themselves are aware of these problems and willing to address them.

But this is just the beginning. As IT starts to upend the industry, schools will need to make more and deeper cuts. The legal profession just is going to be much smaller in the future. The sooner the law schools realize this and act accordingly, the less suffering the transition will cause.

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