Who will merge or affiliate next?

It’s been a tough time to be a stand-alone law school. Unlike law schools affiliated with universities, stand-alone schools have no financial source to fall back on. With applications down, schools have had to either cut enrollment, allow their entering LSAT scores to fall, or both.

That has led to several mergers in recent years, including Texas Wesleyan joining Texas A&M, Southern New England joining University of Massachusetts and now William Mitchell College of Law merging with Hamline University School of Law.

The two Minnesota schools share some unique factors that led to their historic merger. The schools have very similar profiles for entering students and are located only three miles apart. Perhaps even more important, William Mitchell is a stand-alone law school. William Mitchell has a slightly better LSAT and GPA profile than Hamline, which is affiliated with a larger university.

We scanned through the numbers to see if other law schools meet the same criteria and found only one match: Suffolk University and New England Law. Both schools have seen drops in enrollment and entering LSAT scores. New England is a stand-alone school with a slightly better LSAT and GPA profile that Suffolk. Suffolk, which has the support of a larger university, has seen its median LSAT drop ten points since 2009-2010. A merger could strengthen both schools, which are less than a mile apart.

Even though Suffolk and New England are the only other schools to match the criteria, there are other stand-alone schools with merger options. Whether any of these schools need or desire a merger is another issue. The point here is that they have options.

Western State College of Law is a stand-alone law school in Orange County, Calif. It has seen enrollment and entering credentials drop. Western State could seek to merge with California State University — Fullerton, which is across the street, Cal State is one of the largest universities in the U.S. without a law school. But Western State is a for profit law school and that could complicate any merger talks.

Other large universities that could be open to taking on a law school include San Diego State University.

California Western School of Law has previously discussed affiliating with nearby University of California, San Diego. Thomas Jefferson School of Law is also a stand-alone school in San Diego.

Princeton University is one of only three Ivy League universities without a law school, along with Brown University and Dartmouth College. While there are no stand-alone law schools in any of the three states, there are still possible matches.

Either Brooklyn Law School or New York Law School could provide Princeton with a professional college in the largest city in the U.S. Other possible partners for Brooklyn and NYLS include Rockefeller University and Stony Brook University.

New England Law is only 50 miles north of Brown University. It could also partner with Tufts University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Brandeis University, giving it more options than any other school.

Vermont Law School is only 40 miles from Dartmouth. But it would seem that University of Vermont is a more natural partner.

South Texas College of Law is only three miles from Rice University, one of only 29 research universities without a law school.

Other research universities without law schools include University of Albany, which is negotiating with Albany Law School about a possible merger; California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, only 13 miles from Southwestern Law School; Georgia Tech, which is near Atlanta’s John Marshall; University of Illinois at Chicago, which could be a fit for The John Marshall Law School.

 

 

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