Which Law Schools Are Shedding Full-Time Faculty? (2015 Edition)

Facing shrinking law-school enrollments, many law schools have responded by reducing their faculties. The phenomenon is worth measuring because faculty reductions aren’t always announced publicly, often appearing in the guises of retirements and quiet buy-outs. Consequently, the ABA’s 509 information reports can shed light on changes in law-school faculties. Here’s the cumulative distribution up until 2015.

No. Law-School Faculty by Type

As with last year, I will estimate the decline in fall full-time law-school faculties among the 202 law schools that aren’t in Puerto Rico. The peak for full timers occurred in 2010 (9,093), but that estimate includes the “other full-time faculty” category (clinicians and legal-writing instructors, if I recall), which the ABA no longer tracks independently. The ABA removed that category last year, so at least the 2015-to-2014 comparison will be consistent.

Fall full-time faculty fell by only 3.1 percent this year (-249). Last year the decline was 7.8 percent (-690), indicating a remarkable improvement. Since 2010, the cumulative decline has been 13.3 percent.

Here is a table of law schools ranked by net change in full-time faculty since 2010 and smallest faculty size in 2010. Trivial annual changes may not represent staff reductions and might be attributable to other factors.

FULL-TIME FACULTY (FALL)
RANK SCHOOL ’10 ’14 ’15 ANNUAL CHANGE NET CHANGE
1. WMU Cooley 101 49 44 -5 -57
2. Penn State (Dickinson Law) 57 47 19 -28 -38
3. George Washington 106 72 70 -2 -36
4. Florida Coastal 69 36 37 1 -32
5. SUNY Buffalo 54 48 24 -24 -30
6. John Marshall (Chicago) 75 56 45 -11 -30
7. Pacific, McGeorge 63 36 34 -2 -29
8. Vermont 55 26 27 1 -28
9. Hofstra 60 42 34 -8 -26
10. Arizona Summit [Phoenix] 32 15 7 -8 -25
11. Hamline 34 14 10 -4 -24
12. Catholic 56 38 32 -6 -24
13. DePaul 56 39 32 -7 -24
14. Syracuse 60 51 37 -14 -23
15. New York Law School 71 57 48 -9 -23
16. Texas 103 80 80 0 -23
17. Seton Hall 59 38 37 -1 -22
18. California-Berkeley 90 72 68 -4 -22
19. Cleveland State 39 23 19 -4 -20
20. Santa Clara 65 54 45 -9 -20
21. St. Louis 65 46 45 -1 -20
22. Widener 50 32 31 -1 -19
23. Seattle 66 47 47 0 -19
24. Suffolk 80 78 61 -17 -19
25. Western New England 36 22 18 -4 -18
26. Albany 46 26 28 2 -18
27. Villanova 49 29 31 2 -18
28. Rutgers-Camden 54 42 36 -6 -18
29. Detroit Mercy 42 23 25 2 -17
30. Golden Gate 42 25 25 0 -17
31. Pace 47 34 30 -4 -17
32. Boston University 67 48 50 2 -17
33. Fordham 81 65 65 0 -16
34. Regent 25 14 10 -4 -15
35. Charleston 31 23 16 -7 -15
36. Florida A&M 35 19 20 1 -15
37. Houston 76 70 61 -9 -15
38. New England 40 26 26 0 -14
39. Stetson 59 44 45 1 -14
40. Maryland 63 51 49 -2 -14
41. Roger Williams 27 17 14 -3 -13
42. Atlanta’s John Marshall 35 35 22 -13 -13
43. St. John’s 50 38 37 -1 -13
44. Lewis and Clark 53 47 40 -7 -13
45. Tulane 53 50 40 -10 -13
46. San Diego 66 54 53 -1 -13
47. American 104 90 91 1 -13
48. Quinnipiac 32 19 20 1 -12
49. Oklahoma City 34 24 22 -2 -12
50. William Mitchell 34 26 22 -4 -12
51. Capital 35 17 23 6 -12
52. Marquette 39 34 27 -7 -12
53. Arizona 44 36 32 -4 -12
54. Iowa 46 40 34 -6 -12
55. Nova Southeastern 60 49 48 -1 -12
56. California-Hastings 71 64 59 -5 -12
57. Faulkner 23 15 12 -3 -11
58. Widener (Commonwealth) 25 18 14 -4 -11
59. Dayton 27 18 16 -2 -11
60. Akron 33 30 22 -8 -11
61. Louisiana State 41 35 30 -5 -11
62. North Carolina Central 42 37 31 -6 -11
63. Touro 42 29 31 2 -11
64. Chapman 51 41 40 -1 -11
65. Georgia 51 48 40 -8 -11
66. Ohio Northern 22 13 12 -1 -10
67. Southern University 35 20 25 5 -10
68. California Western 45 37 35 -2 -10
69. Wake Forest 48 36 38 2 -10
70. Wisconsin 65 62 55 -7 -10
71. Miami 82 77 72 -5 -10
72. Appalachian 16 8 7 -1 -9
73. La Verne 19 8 10 2 -9
74. Arkansas (Little Rock) 30 23 21 -2 -9
75. Washington and Lee 35 36 26 -10 -9
76. Southern Methodist 46 31 37 6 -9
77. Loyola (IL) 60 56 51 -5 -9
78. Loyola (CA) 66 58 57 -1 -9
79. Gonzaga 29 21 21 0 -8
80. Florida State 47 40 39 -1 -8
81. Loyola (LA) 50 46 42 -4 -8
82. Connecticut 52 46 44 -2 -8
83. Brooklyn 68 59 60 1 -8
84. St. Mary’s 36 32 29 -3 -7
85. Indiana (Indianapolis) 41 39 34 -5 -7
86. Thomas Jefferson 42 33 35 2 -7
87. Alabama 47 40 40 0 -7
88. Indiana (Bloomington) 59 55 52 -3 -7
89. Montana 19 12 13 1 -6
90. Campbell 23 22 17 -5 -6
91. Ave Maria 26 20 20 0 -6
92. Toledo 26 25 20 -5 -6
93. Tulsa 28 24 22 -2 -6
94. Mississippi 31 30 25 -5 -6
95. Oregon 35 27 29 2 -6
96. Case Western Reserve 47 33 41 8 -6
97. Illinois 49 44 43 -1 -6
98. Louisville 26 24 21 -3 -5
99. Southern Illinois 27 24 22 -2 -5
100. St. Thomas (MN) 29 23 24 1 -5
101. New Hampshire 33 27 28 1 -5
102. Hawaii 35 25 30 5 -5
103. Kansas 35 33 30 -3 -5
104. Texas Tech 35 37 30 -7 -5
105. Valparaiso 35 31 30 -1 -5
106. Washington University 68 62 63 1 -5
107. Yale 76 75 71 -4 -5
108. Northern Kentucky 28 23 24 1 -4
109. Washburn 31 28 27 -1 -4
110. San Francisco 37 31 33 2 -4
111. George Mason 38 31 34 3 -4
112. Southern California 43 42 39 -3 -4
113. Pittsburgh 47 37 43 6 -4
114. Arizona State 53 51 49 -2 -4
115. Chicago 71 67 67 0 -4
116. South Dakota 14 13 11 -2 -3
117. District of Columbia 21 20 18 -2 -3
118. Florida International 32 35 29 -6 -3
119. Oklahoma 34 39 31 -8 -3
120. Rutgers-Newark 40 37 37 0 -3
121. South Texas 44 47 41 -6 -3
122. Temple 63 58 60 2 -3
123. Samford 23 19 21 2 -2
124. Kentucky 25 24 23 -1 -2
125. Mississippi College 26 23 24 1 -2
126. Baylor 27 23 25 2 -2
127. Drake 28 25 26 1 -2
128. Willamette 28 27 26 -1 -2
129. Cincinnati 29 29 27 -2 -2
130. Tennessee 30 27 28 1 -2
131. Michigan State 52 58 50 -8 -2
132. Michigan 92 82 90 8 -2
133. Howard 26 19 25 6 -1
134. Mercer 27 27 26 -1 -1
135. Texas Southern 30 27 29 2 -1
136. Missouri (Kansas City) 34 30 33 3 -1
137. Richmond 36 35 35 0 -1
138. Boston College 51 54 50 -4 -1
139. Southwestern 57 57 56 -1 -1
140. Minnesota 58 55 57 2 -1
141. Chicago-Kent, IIT 66 64 65 1 -1
142. Georgetown 129 124 128 4 -1
143. Duquesne 26 25 26 1 0
144. Drexel 27 27 27 0 0
145. Arkansas (Fayetteville) 29 26 29 3 0
146. Texas A&M [Wesleyan] 30 26 30 4 0
147. Whittier 31 21 31 10 0
148. Pepperdine 35 39 35 -4 0
149. South Carolina 36 38 36 -2 0
150. California-Davis 43 46 43 -3 0
151. Baltimore 58 59 58 -1 0
152. Pennsylvania 75 71 75 4 0
153. California-Los Angeles 86 98 86 -12 0
154. Western State 16 20 17 -3 1
155. Liberty 19 22 20 -2 1
156. Wyoming 21 21 22 1 1
157. Nebraska 26 29 27 -2 1
158. Nevada 26 28 27 -1 1
159. New Mexico 28 33 29 -4 1
160. Barry 33 35 34 -1 1
161. West Virginia 33 38 34 -4 1
162. Utah 34 33 35 2 1
163. City University 36 37 37 0 1
164. Wayne State 38 33 39 6 1
165. Notre Dame 46 44 47 3 1
166. Virginia 79 77 80 3 1
167. Northern Illinois 19 19 21 2 2
168. Elon 20 20 22 2 2
169. Creighton 23 24 25 1 2
170. Missouri (Columbia) 28 31 30 -1 2
171. St. Thomas (FL) 28 32 30 -2 2
172. Vanderbilt 36 34 38 4 2
173. Georgia State 57 55 59 4 2
174. New York University 151 154 153 -1 2
175. North Dakota 12 14 15 1 3
176. Maine 16 13 19 6 3
177. Memphis 18 22 22 0 4
178. Idaho 21 25 25 0 4
179. Ohio State 42 52 46 -6 4
180. Northeastern 36 40 41 1 5
181. William and Mary 39 49 44 -5 5
182. Colorado 43 50 48 -2 5
183. Northwestern 99 103 104 1 5
184. Duke 70 74 76 2 6
185. North Carolina 42 52 49 -3 7
186. Denver 62 73 69 -4 7
187. Brigham Young 19 26 27 1 8
188. Cardozo, Yeshiva 61 61 69 8 8
189. Lincoln Memorial 8 9 1 9
190. Emory 58 61 68 7 10
191. Concordia 10 10 10
192. Washington 54 59 65 6 11
193. Cornell 51 47 63 16 12
194. Florida 56 59 68 9 12
195. Charlotte 35 64 48 -16 13
196. Harvard 141 139 154 15 13
197. Belmont 14 13 -1 13
198. Massachusetts — Dartmouth 17 15 -2 15
199. Stanford 68 90 91 1 23
200. California-Irvine 32 35 3 35
201. Penn State (Penn State Law) 35 35 35
202. Columbia 107 167 161 -6 54
10TH PERCENTILE 23 19 17 -7 -20
25TH PERCENTILE 30 25 24 -4 -12
MEDIAN 42 35 34 -1 -5
75TH PERCENTILE 58 51 48 1 0
90TH PERCENTILE 75 67 68 4 5
MEAN 46.4 40.7 39.0 -1.2 -6.0
GROSS GAIN (^_^) 279 368
GROSS LOSS -528 -1,574
CUMULATIVE 9,093 8,136 7,887 -249 -1,206

Editorial observations:

  • Our No. 1, WMU Cooley, shouldn’t surprise anyone. The next two not so much.
  • As of 2015, Penn State is now two law schools, which is why the new “Penn State Law” campus gained 35 faculty this year from nil. Arguably, Penn State (Dickinson) “shed” these instructors in some sense—just to a different school. Regardless, I don’t think it’s problematic.
  • No. 3, George Washington, raised a stir last year because, as some commenters insisted, the law school reclassified a number of full-time faculty to a designation none could identify. It’s possible that the elimination of the “other full-time faculty” category last year somehow disserved GWU, but I don’t really see why because similar problems didn’t plague other law schools at the time. As it is, until someone can identify which bucket GWU put those 20 or so persons, I consider them “shed.”
  • William Mitchell and Hamline are still separate law schools at this point in 509-land. Mitchell | Hamline does not have a report of its own (a decision I agree with).
  • I’m a bit surprised that Whittier added 10 full-time faculty and that UCLA lost 12.
  • Suffolk lost 17 full-time faculty, and SUNY Buffalo cut its full timers in half (-24). These are plausible if high numbers.
  • Arizona Summit, Appalachian, and Lincoln Memorial have fewer than 10 full-time fall faculty. The latter two aren’t news, but Arizona Summit is the standout because these 7 souls are responsible for 587 students. Arizona Summit reported 0 part-time faculty this year, which is a misreporting (unless its Web site is lying or grossly out of date).
  • La Verne bounced back from 8 full-time faculty last year.
  • Did Harvard really add 15 people? It wouldn’t surprise me, but still.

I believe this is the last topic I regularly cover based on the annual release of the 509 information reports. You can read my past posts for the 2015-16 academic year here:

 

8 comments

  1. My school GAINED a few faculty members! I feel like doing the Dean Scream….Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New York YEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! I can’t wait to tell my wife…I am going to have a banner year as a SOLO………I must be doing ok or something. I guess. No, not really.

  2. Did Penn State Dickinson faculty just move to the other Penn State?

    Also, how in the world does VLS have 27 faculty?

    1. It’s the dance band on the Titanic, nearer my god to thee!

  3. You are misinterpreting the ABA data. The ABA counts as “full time faculty” a lot of people teaching who are not really full time, tenured or tenure-track faculty. The ABA also only counts the faculty who are teaching in the fall, meaning sabbaticals can change the results year in and year out. So except at the extremes, this chart is not informative about what’s really going on.

    1. Anon, the ABA’s definition of “full-time faculty” is the one I use because it’s the only one that can be consistently applied to all law schools, so there is no misinterpretation on my part. Indeed, if you had read the text of the post, you would have noted my discussion of the defunct “other full-time faculty” category. What I said to the George Washington professors last year still holds: It’s not my problem if law schools misinterpret the ABA’s definitions.

      I am curious how you know that the ABA only counts fall full-time faculty. The questionnaire (pdf) states that law schools are to include in their full-time counts anyone who teaches in a calendar year, and the 509 reports have separated fall from spring faculty for many years. (I track fall faculty because that’s the current academic year.)

      Finally, you will note that I wrote, “Trivial annual changes may not represent staff reductions and might be attributable to other factors.”

  4. The list of law schools that have reduced the size of their faculties the most is interesting for several reasons. It’s remarkable how much the average faculty has contracted during just the last few years (nearly one in six faculty positions eliminated). And it’s also noteworthy how the reductions have tracked the diminution in law school applications and enrollment, irrespective of the prestige level of the institution. With most recent reports reflecting a modest rise in applications for Fall 2016’s entering class, perhaps some of these cuts will prove to have been a bit hasty.

    Perhaps most surprising, to some, is the fact that there are many nominally not-for-profit law schools among the list of institutions that have “shed” the most professors. This highlights the false dichotomy between openly for-profit and putatively not-for-profit schools. Both categories must do what it takes to pay the bills and remain above water in the real world of revenues and expenses. Nominally non-profit law schools have been full participants in the decimation of their faculties.

    As has long been the case in other aspects of higher education, many full-time professors have been replaced by adjuncts and lecturers. Such part-time teachers work for a tiny fraction of the pay a full-time professor earns, and they receive no health or dental benefits, summer research stipends, travel budgets, book allowances, or retirement plan contributions. Law school administrators have discovered what other academic leaders have long known: adjuncts are the greatest bargain in all of higher education (rivaled only by graduate students who teach and do research for little or no pay).

    Some of the other comments here reflect schadenfreude on the part of people who feel ill-used and damaged by the law school system. This is understandable. Individuals who have incurred onerous debt burdens in attending law school, only to find themselves unable to pass the bar and/or to secure adequate J.D.-mandatory employment quite naturally feel resentment toward professors and administrators who “lured” or “duped” them into betting on law school. But the reaper’s scythe in no respecter of persons, and those who have lost their jobs are often not those who played any role in attracting applicants. As with any time of wrenching transition, there are winners and losers, and plenty of suffering to go around.

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