While it’s true that the problems of American law schools don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, we must cultivate our own gardens even as the republic burns, or something.
The number of fully accredited ABA law schools that have closed or have announced their closing doubled this week, from two to four.
The surprise winner in the law school death pool. A 50-year-old addition to Richard Nixon’s undergraduate alma matter, Whittier announced it was closing in April of last year. Abysmal bar passage rates that threatened the school’s accreditation proved to be too much for the college’s central administration to tolerate any longer (Query: I thought colleges by definition didn’t have graduate professional schools. What is the definitional difference between a college and a university anyway?)
One of three for-profit law schools operated by Infilaw, a scam outfit created by a private equity firm to vacuum up federal GRADPLUS loan dollars by the hundreds of millions.
Closed in August of last year. The school’s students found out about the closure by reading about it in the New York Times, since the school administration neglected to inform them that their institution was now kipping on its back. Classy.
Announced this week that it would close in the spring of 2020, after Valparaiso University’s attempt to gift the school to Middle Tennessee State was nixed by Tennessee regulators. Valpo’s law school is 140 years old, but as an excellent Noam Scheiber New York Times piece detailed a couple of years ago, it was losing lots of money while its graduates were struggling to find jobs (This of course also describes the circumstances at dozens of other ABA law schools. As was the case with Whittier, the difference between these schools and Valpo is that the central administration wasn’t willing to subsidize the operation any longer).
The second of the three Infilaw rackets to join the choir invisible, Arizona Summit officially gave up the ghost the day before Halloween. My proudest professional achievement is having played some role in shivving these outrageous grifts.
This isn’t a full accounting of the body count notched by the law school reform movement however, as we have:
Provisionally accredited by the the ABA in 2016, it ceased to be just a few months afterwards. The usual suspects wrote up a glowing prospectus for this always dubious venture about 17 seconds before the bottom fell out of the law school application market. Indiana Tech became Indiana’s fifth law school when it opened in 2013. With the imminent departure of Valpo, the state will be down to three.
The very first ABA accredited law school to disappear, Hamline did not technically close only because, in February 2015, Hamline University announced its law school was merging with William Mitchell, a free-standing law school in the Twin Cities. This was in fact a constructive closure, as William Mitchell is the same size now that it was five years ago. Look for more of these sorts of face-saving “mergers,” as universities with small endowments and less than unlimited patience look to shoot various white elephants of the jurisprudential kind.
Thomas Cooley Ann Arbor Campus and Savannah Law School, a branch of Atlanta John Marshall Law School.
These were recent closures of branch campuses of a couple of horrible bottom-feeding law schools that should be shut down in toto, but Rome wasn’t sacked in a day.