A recent article by University of San Diego law professor David McGowan and academic fellow Bernard Burk of the Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford suggests that some law schools may be forced to close as the prospects for graduates decline.
In a recent article, “Big But Brittle: Economic Perspectives on the Future of the Law Firm in the New Economy,” the professors note that large law firms continue to hire fewer highly paid associates. On the whole, firms seem to be hiring more associates and paying them less. The article predicts that with the prospects of a substantial salary looking grim, law school applications will eventually drop, causing a number of law schools to close their doors.The issue boils down to whether or not individuals still feel that law school is a good investment. According to Northwestern Law Dean David Van Zandt, the break-even salary for law grads is $65,000, and in some cases even higher. Coupled with the recession, law school is looking like a bad economic decision for more and more people.Not all law schools are in danger, however. McGowan and Burk note that the “super elite” law schools will remain. In order for other schools to remain open, they will most likely have to have a track record of good placement as well as lower tuition in order to attract applicants.The cost of law school has been a hot topic in recent weeks. One third-year Boston College law student even went as far as to write an open letter to the school's paper asking for his tuition back. The student cited a lackluster job market as well as massive student loan debt among his reasons to want to leave law school and receive a refund.“This will help BC Law go up in the rankings, since you will not have to report my unemployment at graduation to U.S. News,” the student wrote.