Thursday, April 20, 2017

Whittier College Shuts Down Law School: Implications

For all the talk about making college affordable, and the legislation from Sacramento Republicans as well as Democrats to fight this issue, it does not look like these proposals will amount to much.

Check out what just happened to Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa.

The OC Register reports:

The Whittier College Board of Trustees has made the surprise decision to discontinue the Whittier Law School, shocking and angering law students and faculty at the Orange County campus.

I want you to understand how deeply frustrating and disturbing this is. Students are enrolled in classes, as either first, second, or third year students.

And the school is closing down on them, much like shutting the door at closing time or a bank, which then announces they have failed since they no longer have the money to back your checking and savings accounts.


Whittier College President Sharon Herzberger on Wednesday said that campus leaders have spent several years looking for ways to keep the law school going, including exploring a merger with another law school or finding another entity to take it on.

Several years, but what came out of all that work? This law school is a private program, is it not? Where are the donors? Why didn't alumni step up to do something?

“Law schools have been having lots of problems for 10 years,” Herzberger said. “We have tried a lot of things.”

Law schools nationwide have struggled with declines in enrollment and income from tuition. Whittier Law School has also struggled with finding long-term employment for graduates.


Notice, however, that unlike UC and Cal State schools, which are struggling with the same problems as the ones listed above, they are not closing down. They just get more money and hire more administrative staff.

But officials with the law school itself described the decision by their parent campus as “unwise, unwarranted and unfounded.”

“As is well known, the last few years have been extremely difficult for law schools across the country,” law school faculty wrote in a statement. “Whittier Law School felt those challenges keenly and we took significant steps to address them.

“Sadly, our sponsoring institution opted to abandon the law school rather than provide the time and resources needed to finish paving the path to ongoing viability and success.”

It's about cutting costs, I suppose. But this is a serious economic problem, indeed.

Why are there fewer lawyers? I notice that this article has not mentioned tuition costs.

Bahareh Omrani, a third-year law student at the school, said students were sent an email Tuesday night and told to attend an emergency meeting on Wednesday morning, where two trustees broke the news of the closure to angry students but answered no additional questions.

“We literally have no answers,” Omrani said. “Everyone was so upset, they walked out without giving us anything.”

How about that?!

Omrani said the law school faculty were just as surprised as the students. The sudden announcement left younger students unsure if they should stay with the school, and graduating students, such as Omrani, worried about the value of their diplomas.

YIKES! Then again, the last research I had done on Whittier Law School outlined that this law school was an expensive, third-rate law school. Why spend that much money in the first place?

“We are all worried that when we graduate, we are going to have a degree from a school that doesn’t exist,” Omrani said. “We are all trying to figure out what to do.”

The lack of answers and sudden timing of the announcement has led to a panic among students, said Margaret Rafter, a third-year student at the law school.

“They dropped a bomb on us a week before finals,” Rafter said. “People were in tears.”

The number of students admitted to the small campus – comprised of red and light-brown buildings and a grass-lined quad at Harbor Boulevard and Sunflower Avenue – has dropped over the past several years, from 1,579 students admitted in 2013 to 934 in 2016.

That is a massive plunge--at least six hundred!

The board’s decision doesn’t mean an immediate closure for the law school, said Marc Stevens, spokesman for the law school.

No more first-year students — 1L’s in legal school parlance — will be accepted. But college officials — both at the law school campus and at the larger university — said current students can complete their degrees.

OK. Thats good

“The law school will still honor its obligations to the people who are still here,” Stevens said.

Now that the final decision about the law school’s fate has been made, Herzberger said campus leaders can turn their attention to crafting a plan to help the current students graduate.

They have to lay out plans?

They should have provided more information and breathing room to the student body by allowing the current enrollment of students to adjust and find another law school. How about allowing the current students to complete their studies and achieve their law degrees while refuse to enroll future students?

“They need to know that they are our top priority and the plan we develop will keep them in mind,” Herzberger said.

Originally founded in 1966 and merged with the larger Whittier campus in 1974, Whittier Law School moved to its Costa Mesa campus in 1997 after outgrowing its original campus in Los Angeles. Whittier College’s most well-known undergraduate was Richard Nixon; his law degree was from Duke.

In recent years, many graduates of Whittier Law School have struggled to find employment. An Orange County Register analysis in 2015 found that the number of Whittier law school graduates who obtained full-time, long-term employment was less than half the national average.

So, Whittier Law School was underperforming ... the free market is working. If an institution does not provide the service it claims to provide, then it gets shut down. I wonder how the current enrollees feel about the diminishing return on their investment.

In 2016, 22 percent of the first-time takers of the California bar exam from Whittier passed. The statewide average among law school campuses was 62 percent.

22%?! That is incredibly low. Unreal.

Notice again that there was no mention of the tuition costs in this article.

Even if this law school had a stellar record of turning out trained Juris Doctor recipients who could pass the California Bar Exam with ease, could law students afford the tuition?

27. How much is tuition?
For the Fall 2015-16 academic year, Full-Time Tuition (12-15 units flat rate) is $43,970 (excluding $400 GAF fee) and Part-Time tuition (8-10 units flat rate) is $29,314 (excluding $400 GAF fee).

Do you see that?! $40,000 for a law degree from a third rate university where the students have an abysmal passage rate?!

No wonder this law school is going down in flames.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my god! That’s sad. My uncle was a part of this institute. He will be so sad after he hears about it. He is a very successful and famous lawyer in today’s time and it is probably because of this institute. I have also started practicing a lot of LSAT Sample Questions in order to clear my law exam and become like my uncle one day.