For the past five years or so there’s been a rather lively debate about how many, if any, ABA-approved law schools would shuffle off their previously immortal coil and kick the institutional bucket, given cratering applicant numbers and the often-grim job prospects for new lawyers that, when publicized, caused said cratering.
Now one finally has:
Indiana Tech [President] Arthur Snyder said the university has lost $20 million on the law school and, given projected enrollments, expected the deficit to continue. “This was an extremely difficult decision for all involved,” Snyder said. “Over the course of time it has become apparent that the significant decline in law school applicants nationwide represents a long term shift in the legal education field, not a short-term one. Specific to Indiana Tech, the assessment of the Board and our senior leadership team is that for the foreseeable future the law school will not be able to attract students in sufficient numbers for the school to remain viable.”
Indiana Tech Law School currently has a total of 71 students, and Snyder said they will have the option to complete the year, with those in their third and final year having the ability to graduate from the law school in May. First and second year students will have the option to transfer to other law schools at the start of the January 2017 semester, or to complete the year at Indiana Tech Law School and then transfer for the start of the fall 2017 semester.
Chris Mackaronis, a Washington, D.C., attorney representing one of the faculty members affected, said the university’s Board of Directors had recently voted unanimously to close the school at the end of the academic year in June 2017. The vote, he said, conflicts with years of representations to the students, faculty and the American Bar Association regarding the university’s commitment to pursue full accreditation and long-term success for the law school.
“Most of the faculty accepted their appointments at great professional risk (based on that commitment),” Mackaronis said, calling the closure a “complete betrayal of what the university and the Board of Trustees represented to the faculty, staff, and students repeatedly over the last few years . . . By all measures, the plan was working,” he said.
Indiana Tech was always an absurdly unnecessary addition to an already-saturated field, so this development is a good thing from a structural point of view, especially since it could be the first of several dominoes to fall. (History shows again and again that the closure of one school in a field tends to embolden administrators at other institutions).
Those $20 million in losses produced exactly one graduate who passed the Indiana bar this summer, which surely establishes some sort of unbreakable record.
Students with federal student loans can have those loans forgiven if the school they’re attending goes out of business, although I don’t know whether this rule applies to individual schools within a still-extant university.
. . . Yet Another Lawyer in comments:
By the way, I recognize that taking absurd positions on behalf of the client is part of the legal profession, but this is really something:
“Most of the faculty accepted their appointments at great professional risk (based on that commitment),” Mackaronis (a Washington, D.C., attorney representing one of the faculty members affected ) said, calling the closure a “complete betrayal of what the university and the Board of Trustees represented to the faculty, staff, and students repeatedly over the last few years . . . By all measures, the plan was working,” he said.
Yes, the “lose twenty million dollars to generate one graduate who could pass the bar” plan was working perfectly. We called it Operation Snowflake!