The WSJ reports that:
Law schools are experimenting with a novel solution to the nation's glut of attorneys: mint fewer of them.
Faced with a weak job market for lawyers and a dwindling number of applicants, several law schools are cutting the size of their incoming classes, a move legal experts describe as unprecedented.
I can see why schools might look at this as a favorable strategy. Cutting the number of admits means that you can be more selective. Your mean LSAT score goes up. A smaller number of smarter students might be easier to place in jobs. And so on.
From a social perspective, however, I wonder if the better solution would be to reduce the number of law schools. At the same time, we also need massive reform in the obsolete system of legal licensing. There are at least two markets for legal services. One requires highly sophisticated, highly trained experts to handle comlex litigation and transactions. This market could and should be staffed by professionals trained at high quality law schools. But there is another vast market for routine services like simple wills, residential real estate transactions, probate, divorce, and so on that could be routinely handled by someone with paralegal level training. Ironically, our current system doesn't produce enough lawyers to service that market, in no small part because students coming out of three years of law school often have too much debt (and too high aspirations) to take on the low salaries associated with such work.
Medicine is increasingly bifurcated between physicians and nurse practitioners. Law schould be following that example.