Last year, there was such a substantial national decline, and a lot of law school deans said, “It’s got to be the bottom of the market, right?” People assume there has to be an uptick, because there’ll be a recovery and students will see an opportunity to get into better schools. But then a year goes by and there’s an additional decline. I will say this: The preliminary data I’ve seen on the students who have taken the LSAT this year suggests that we’re not seeing a big recovery—let’s put it that way.
He also doesn't think there are simple solutions:
... if I engage in radical surgery and do what you read about in the blogs—“Why don’t law schools cut tuition in half? Why don’t they do all these things?”—that would cut our ability to engage in things like clinical education, financial aid…
I concur. I believe that there has been a permanent decline in the demand for legal services, principally as a result of these factors:
- Client pushback on costs will continue
- Increasing reliance on non-lawyer legal service providers
- Self-help (e.g., Legalzoom.com)
- Outsourcing to legal support service companies in low wage English-speaking countries (especially India)
- That market has been growing at 30% per year since 2009
- Online learning requires investing in new technology
- Experiential learning requires a lot of hands-on teaching, which means you need to reduce student-faculty ratios (either by hiring new faculty or cutting class size, which either raises costs or reduces revenues)
- Cutting faculty size probably will require some sort of buy out system, which won't be free
- Ditto cutting bloated administrative staffs
None of which solves the basic problem, which that we have too damn many law schools.