Skip to main content

As two St. Paul law schools merge, why are fewer students studying the law?

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Two of Minnesota's four law schools have announced they will merge in the wake of a nationwide decline in students choosing to study law.

The 110-year-old William Mitchell College of Law and the Hamline School of Law revealed Friday they will join forces to create the Mitchell|Hamline School of Law, primarily based at the Mitchell campus in St. Paul.

"This is a bold move at a time when students and the legal profession are calling on law schools to do things different," William Mitchell president and dean Eric Janus said of the merger, which will need to be approved by the American Bar Association before it can go through.

It means the number of law schools in Minnesota will be reduced to three, with Mitchell|Hamline competing for students with the University of Minnesota's and the University of St. Thomas's law schools.

The Star Tribune notes that both Hamline and Mitchell had seen a dramatic decline in enrollment in recent years, with Hamline's student numbers dropping by a third in the last five years, while Mitchell's dropped 17 percent in the same period.

Currently, the two colleges have a combined 1,248 students, but the merged school will have around 900 students, the newspaper notes.

Why are fewer students going to law school?

The two schools are not alone in having to take unusual steps to ensure their futures in the wake of plummeting interest in law degrees.

The reason for this, according to this piece in US News, is that there has been a decline in job prospects for law graduates, and prospective students don't want to burden themselves with higher student debts when there are few guarantees when they graduate.

The Boston Globe says that law firms cut back on hiring during the recession and began outsourcing more work, while at the same time, advancing technology reduced the need for certain support roles.

The newspaper notes that there were 39,675 law school enrollments in 2013/14, the lowest seen since 1977/78 and way down from the record high of 52,488 in 2010/11.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Protest for Tyre Nichols to be held outside MN Governor’s Mansion

Activists groups say they’ll call on Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature to implement police reforms.

Pool

Minnesota pool contractor banned from industry, must pay $2 million-plus

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed suit against Charles Workman and his company, MN Crete Pools, LLC, in August.

Minneapolis police

St. Paul man identified as victim of north Minneapolis homicide

The shooting occurred on the 2200 block of Emerson Avenue North on Wednesday.

ambulance

Two youths seriously injured after being struck by driver in Bloomington

Police say the boy is in a critical condition, while the girl has severe injuries.

Rosedale Center

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Leon Kismit Bell, 49, and Jack Mitchell Piche, 23, were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Jan. 20.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

George Floyd, protest

Twin Cities authorities preparing for community reaction to Tyre Nichols video

The ATF division in St. Paul sent out an alert out of "an abundance of caution."

Related