From the university’s web site:
Beginning with the 2015-16 academic year, the school will enroll entering 1L classes of about 100 students, resulting in a full-time student body of about 300. For comparison’s sake, the current law school student body is 374 and includes the largest third-year class in school history. The Class of 2017, which entered last fall, had 101 members.
Tuition will increase at an annual rate of 2 percent per year.
Financial aid, which will continue to be allocated beyond historical norms, will gradually return to sustainable levels after a transition period.
In October 2014, the Board of Trustees authorized an increase in the payout from the law school’s endowment income to 7.5 percent through 2017-18. This will add about $3 million to the law school budget in 2015-16.
The goal for the Law School Annual Fund, which provides unrestricted operating funds, has been increased to $1.5 million for 2014-15.
The current student-faculty ratio (9:1) will be preserved, but with smaller enrollments the allocation for faculty compensation will be reduced by about 20 percent (equivalent to six positions) and will be achieved through attrition over the four-year period. In addition, some senior faculty salaries will have a one-time salary reduction of 2 percent with salaries frozen for all faculty during the three-year period.
Six administrative and staff positions will be reduced over a five-year period, and there will also be budget reductions for visiting and adjunct faculty.
Operating budgets will be reduced by 10 percent in 2015-16 with the exception of the library budget, which will grow by 2 percent.
Although the financial model currently shows operating deficits for 2014-15 through 2017-18, the law school budget is projected to be back in balance by the 2018-19 academic year.
Prior to last year, the school’s total JD enrollment was consistently between 390-405 JD students, so this plan represents about a 25% reduction in the student body relative to historical norms.
W&L got a lot of good press a few years ago for transforming their third year of law school into an “experiential” externship-based program. The program didn’t result in more jobs for their graduates, however, and now the school’s central administration is bringing down the budget hammer.
Similar stories are now playing out all over legal academia.