Schools begin to report lower enrollment numbers

Law schools across the country are reporting lower enrollment numbers, due to a further drop in applications. The number of applicants dropped 12.3 percent this year, and is down by almost one-third since 2010. While law schools scrambled into August trying to enroll students, several schools are now reporting smaller classes.

Thomas Jefferson School of Law expected enrollment to reach 350 students this year, but only 250 enrolled for the 2013 entering class.

That forced the school to cut staff. It laid off 12 employees in early August, cutting $4.4 million from its budget. Additionally, the school cut 14 specialized courses that had low enrollment.

“There are a number of law schools across the country having to adjust their budgets because of fewer applications coming in, and it finally hit us,” said Assistant Dean of Administration Lori Wulfemeyer in an interview with U-T San Diego. “We were keeping up with expected enrollment, but this year we’re feeling it.”

Wulfemeyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Indiana Tech Law School, the newest school to open, enrolled 32 students in its inaugural class, falling short of its goal for 100.

"The hundred number, I think, was more aspirational," said Jessica Lynn Anderson, an assistant dean of admissions at Indiana Tech told  "It wasn't set in consultation with any of us here now. It was set before we got here and before the big downturn nationally.

Case Western Reserve University School of Law reported a class of 104 for this fall, down from 165 in 2012. The school reduced staff to meet its budget, reported. The school also announced it was making dramatic changes to its curriculum to provide students with more practical skills in hope they will be better equipped to find jobs after graduation. 

The new curriculum will require students to work with clients beginning in their first semester, write more, and spend at least one semester during their third year working in an externship or clinical position. The school will also begin to require leadership courses. To allow students to obtain more practical experience during the fall and spring semesters, Case Western University will offer courses to students during the summer free of charge. The new curriculum will take effect in August 2014, although some changes will take place beginning this academic year.

Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, decreased its class size because alumni complained about the sparse job market. It enrolled 20 fewer students for the 2013 entering class, dropping enrollment by about five percent.

In 2011, enrollment nationwide dropped by about seven percent, according to the Law School Admission Council. Enrollment dropped again in 2012 by nearly nine percent.

Additionally, the number of LSAT exams administered dropped to 112,515 in 2012-2013, down from 171,514 in 2009-2010. This was the lowest year since 2000-2001. The first exam in the 2013—2014 cycle, administered in June, was down 4.9 percent.