Stealth Layoffs Revealed?

I’ve been spending some time gathering law school faculty data from the Official Guide for future posts. I still have to Reinhart my Rogoffs, but I think the numbers I’ve entered are accurate. Here’s a quick-and-dirty history of full-time law school faculty since 1998.

Total Full-Time Law School Faculty (ex. PR)

Noticeably, the number has dropped in fall 2012.

I bring this up in part thanks to Paul Campos’ post on law school budget deficits. The question I asked myself is: To what extent are these deficits caused by shrinking class sizes and to what extent by far larger faculty than in the past? Put differently, if law schools pared down their headcounts to what they were in 1999, would they be able to continue to function? It may mean the difference between law school life and doom.


Law School Faculty & Enrollment (1999=100)This chart excludes the Puerto Rico law schools too, by the way, but it’s pretty clear that this year (2013) will see the first “real” full-time enrollment crunch relative to the 1999 base year. And yes, the average law school has 37 percent more full-time professors than in 1999; I’m astonished too.

And just which law schools appear to be shedding faculty?

Below is a table of the top 20 (’cause I know you lo~ve your lists) law schools by number of fewer full-time faculty. I have checked these numbers, so they are correct.

1. Indiana (Indianapolis) 42 8 -34
2. Puerto Rico 23 4 -19
3. New York Law School 70 57 -13
4. St. John’s 52 39 -13
5. La Verne 19 8 -11
6. California-Hastings 67 57 -10
7. Stetson 58 48 -10
8. Catholic 52 43 -9
9. Florida Coastal 69 60 -9
10. Nevada 32 23 -9
11. Hamline 34 26 -8
12. San Diego 55 47 -8
13. Seton Hall 49 41 -8
14. Texas 83 75 -8
15. Georgia State 50 43 -7
16. New Hampshire 21 14 -7
17. Pace 48 41 -7
18. Roger Williams 27 20 -7
19. Golden Gate 36 30 -6
20. McGeorge 49 43 -6

Caveat #1: It’s pretty clear that some schools are really bad at reporting their faculty information to the ABA. I seriously doubt Indianapolis only had eight full-time professors on hand last fall. The number should probably be 38. Same goes for Puerto Rico. Both schools appeared to miss a digit when filling out the forms. La Verne, on the other hand, is more plausible. Recall that it had a severe enrollment crunch in 2012 because it’d lost its provisional accreditation the year before. Still, it’s pretty surprising that half the professors would be shown the door.

Caveat #2: The faculty numbers the schools report to the ABA tend to be somewhat volatile. It’s not uncommon for a school to report 5 more full-time professors one year and then lose them all the next. I doubt this is just sabbaticals, which are uncounted. [Mini-update: Some of these changes are also undoubtedly due to faculty moving between schools, which makes it harder to attribute declines (or increases) to law profs being shown the door.]

Bear these two points in mind as you gaze upon the table of law schools that added full-time professors to the rolls in fall 2012.

1. Charlotte 39 62 23
2. Columbia 127 142 15
3. South Dakota 1 15 14
4. Denver 62 73 11
5. Mississippi 17 28 11
6. Georgetown 130 140 10
7. Yale 61 71 10
8. Harvard 116 125 9
9. John Marshall (Atlanta) 40 49 9
10. Phoenix 32 41 9
11. Northwestern 76 84 8
12. Pontifical Catholic 21 29 8
13. Ohio State 38 45 7
14. City University 34 39 5
15. North Carolina 44 49 5
16. Notre Dame 49 54 5
17. Pepperdine 35 40 5
18. Akron 26 30 4
19. California-Los Angeles 72 76 4
20. Duke 55 59 4

Again, there is no way South Dakota taught all its fall courses law-prof-of-one-style. I’m also dubious that even Columbia hired 15 more full-time professors. Then again, one-fourth of the schools here are in U.S. News‘ T-14, plus UCLA. Three are for-profits, though one for-profit was in the bottom-20 list.

Caveat #3: This is only full-time professors. There’s still a surge in part-timers and other types that I haven’t documented here.

Ultimately, law schools’ budgets are being pulled down by both filled offices and empty seats, but so far the data say it’s more the former than the latter.

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2 Responses

  1. These might be of interest –

    Looks like Tier 3 is ethically adapting to survive and Tier 4 is planning to go full debauch and move to open admissions lite.

    Tier 3 should capture the ABA Law School Section from Tier 4 (look at history of Section Presidents – lots of Tier 4′s) and move to expel Tier 4′s who go full debauch.

    Very useful, aggregate, broad swath *demand* side hours/pricing data for law firms. Interesting hourly pricing levels can be derived, as can “actually billed” hours/lawyer for different level firms within the law firm “prestige pyramid”

    We’ve had a *lot* of JD supply side analysis – what the starving 40% need is a lot more demand-side analysis of the true, targeted demand for legal services.

    We can’t undo a surplus of 600,000 JDs, but we can try and help them target areas of demand and profitability.

    Very little scamblog work has been done in this area.

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