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April 22, 2017 at 10:32 am

Vedder in Forbes | First Law School Casualty: More To Come?

Dr. Richard Vedder, Distinguished Professor of Economics Emeritus at Ohio University and Director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, penned a column headlined “The First Law School Casualty: More To Come?” in Forbes.

It was inevitable: a law school has closed, the first fatal casualty of the dramatic decline in enrollments that began almost a decade ago. Whittier law school is California was an outgrowth decades ago of Whittier College, Richard Nixon’s alma mater. The college is a mid-quality liberal arts school with an unusually large non-white population, a source of some pride for the school….

While the Great Recession of 2007-09 led to a dramatic decline in demand for lawyers, especially in the large firms that now faced much more cost-conscious corporate clients, there are other factors curtailing the demand for American lawyers, including globalization combined with digital technological advances. Prestigious New York firms facing defections of corporate clients concerned about too many hours billed at $250 or much more for legal research done by brand new attorneys making $150,000 or more annually, are finding they can outsource a good deal of legal research to bright Indian lawyers for a small fraction of the cost. Greater use of paralegals is another cost reduction measure. The Shakespearean plea to “kill all the lawyers” (Henry VI, Part 2) is not being literally fulfilled, but figuratively it is being approximated. I would be surprised that Whittier’s demise will be followed by perhaps a dozen or so other law schools in the next year or two. Schumpeterian creative destruction is coming to legal education.

Read the rest of his column in Forbes.

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