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Lawyer Glut
Law Schools Fight over Shrinking Pool of Students

Inside Higher Ed reports that top-tier law schools are taking on significant numbers of transfer students who started out at lower-ranked schools. Though some evidence suggests transfer students could be paying more at their new schools than their old ones, the schools getting transfer students claim they aren’t doing anything wrong—just accepting students who don’t like their current school and qualify for transfer. But the schools losing them aren’t happy:

American lost 13 of those students to Georgetown and 55 to George Washington University. Using the imprecise measuring stick of U.S. News law school rankings, Georgetown and George Washington are both top 20 schools. American is ranked 72nd. Yet a significant number of Georgetown’s and even more of George Washington’s students were originally American students. In 2013, the median LSAT score at Georgetown was 168; at George Washington, 165; at American, 157.

American’s losses prompted its associate dean for academic affairs, Anthony Varona, to call George Washington “downright predatory” in an online post.

Of course, law schools would be better served thinking about how to restructure themselves to meet the changes coming to their industry than fighting over students in this way. But given how little foresight most law schools have shown heretofore, that may be too much to ask. Expect to see more of this infighting among law schools as the status quo of legal education continues to dissolve due to financial pressure and the shrinking number of students.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    Somehow, I don’t think Americans are going to be well-served by increasingly concentrating its lawyer corps down to those graduating from the “highest ranked” schools. We have a Supreme Court now, for instance, with almost no diversity of educational background or practical experience, and the results are rather poor for citizens. We can blame a lot of that on the partisanship of Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy in the last eight years, of course, but WHY should we be happy even that all of the big nine are from elite schools? That unique experience does not mirror America and we all know it.

  • Fat_Man

    There are 200 law schools in the US. We need about 100. Some of them, such as American. need to be shut down.

  • Kevin

    A move by universities to treat the provision of education more like a competitive market and less like a cartel would be a good thing.

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