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

Anthony Edwards

Ingram's clutch 3-pointer thwarts Ant's fourth-quarter rally

Anthony Edwards went off in the fourth quarter but Brandon Ingram capped off a big night with a win.

Pixabay - laptop computer dark screen

19 years in prison for Plymouth man who produced child porn

He used Instagram and other programs to exploit minors.

redington mushing sled dog

Sled dog team hit by snowmobile in hit-and-run in Wisconsin

One dog had to have surgery after breaking his leg in three places.

lanesboro minnesota

Southern Minnesota city named most stunning small town in MN

And it ranks No. 42 out of 50 on the ranking of each state's stunning towns.

duluth police

Threat forces Duluth school into lockdown

Police K9s searched the school before it was given the all clear.

wayzata east middle school

Suspect steals keys from woman at Wayzata school, drives off in her car

It happened during a basketball game at Wayzata East Middle School in Plymouth.

money hundred dollar bills

Defense attorney sentenced to workhouse for swindling client

She told the client he was facing 15-20 years in prison unless he stumped up more cash.

Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer's Vikings tenure was pockmarked by disputes with staff

Mike Zimmer's "my way or the highway" approach didn't work out in the end.

child vaccine pexels

Walz announces $200 reward for families who get kids aged 5-11 vaccinated

It's the latest incentive program launched by the State of Minnesota.

Ben dapper

Hockey community rallies around player who's fighting cancer

They sent him off with a show of support on Sunday.

tesla

Tesla commits to buying nickel from proposed Minnesota mine

The mine has yet to go through the permitting process.

Related