Merging of law schools hits home

William Mitchell and Hamline combine due to less students.

It’s no secret that enrollment in law school has been going down for a number of years as tuition continues rising and job prospects for lawyers remain stagnant at best. So far, this situation has remained a statistic, but now, the chicken has come to roost.

Earlier this month the law schools of Hamline University and William Mitchell announced their intention to merge in order to stay afloat, a first in the American Bar Association’s history.  With the number of law school students dropping nationwide since about 2010,  there is no reason to believe that conditions will improve. Rather, this is likely the first merger of many, and there are even rumors of other law schools — notably the University of Vermont — that may be on their way out.

While some may be pessimistic about the future of legal education in the United States, David Wippman, the dean of the University of Minnesota Law School, remains rather optimistic. He believes that instead of schools continuing to produce more lawyers than the market needs, they should scale back. Some in the legal world say the schools must adjust to what is in demand, such as careers at the intersection between law and business.

Hopefully, this trend is specific to law and will not begin filtering into other areas of graduate academics. With tuition at all-time highs in many areas, we recommend schools take note of this merger and why it happened. It may provide a case for other schools to avoid the same fate.