Three law schools cut faculty, class size

The fall out from the drop in applications continues to impact law schools, with three recently announcing plans to cut enrollment and faculty sizes.  

Appalachian School of Law, University of Denver and SUNY Buffalo Law School all are in the process of cutting back their size.

“[We’re] returning to a smaller school because that’s probably closer to our mission in any event,” Dean Lucy McGough told the Roanoke Times. “We’re a school … principally for the Appalachian region, a six-state region. The choice to keep it the same size would mean you’d have to take applicants of lesser quality. Given our choices, we think it’s better to return to our roots.”

In addition to decreasing the number of students, the law school plans to cut back all facets of the administration except admissions. The law school will also lower faculty salaries and reduce the number of full-time faculty. About 222 students are currently enrolled in the law school.

In addition, McGough said the law school would dispose of some classes that are taught infrequently. McGough said Appalachian School of Law would maintain a student to faculty ratio of 15-to-1.

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law will also reduce its faculty due to a decrease in applicants.

“Like virtually all law schools in the nation, we are seeing a decrease in applications,” Dean Martin J. Katz told Above the Law in a statement. “This means we must choose between admitting lower quality students in order to fill seats – something we are not willing to do – or reducing our class size.”

The University of Denver will offer voluntary buy-outs to some tenure-track faculty members to help reduce the size of the faculty. Katz said the law school would continue to have a 10-to-1 student to faculty ratio.

SUNY Buffalo Law School will also decrease its faculty and incoming class sizes. Dean Makau Mutua said the school would reduce the first year class from its current size of between 200 and 225 to between 185 and 200. The number of applicants at SUNY Buffalo Law School has decreased from 1,894 in 2010 to 1,146 in 2013.

The law school also offered retirement incentives to faulty over the age of 55. Eight faculty members will accept the retirement incentives, decreasing the number of faculty from 48 to 40.

“These are valued colleagues who have been with us a long time and made many wonderful contributions,” Mutua told Buffalo – Business First. “So we wanted to do it in a way that was mutually beneficial.

According to the Law School Admissions Council, applications have dropped by about 10 percent nationally since 2013. The number of applicants has declined by about 26 percent since 2012.