09:15, April 25 317 0 abajournal.com

2017-04-25 09:15:06
Closing of Whittier Law School illustrates ‘generational wealth shifting,’ professor says

Many law schools missed a “unique opportunity” to shed retirement-age faculty during the economic downturn, a Pepperdine law professor stated in a blog post.

Instead, law schools shifted the economic pain to junior faculty, who were laid off, and students, who paid high tuition even as loosened admission requirements increased their chances of failing the bar exam, according to Professor Robert Anderson.

Writing at the Witnesseth blog, Anderson sees the situation as “a story of generational wealth shifting,” illustrated by the closing of Whittier Law School, the first with ABA accreditation to shut down.

Whittier had experienced a drop in applications and in bar exam results, and closing the school was probably the right decision, Anderson says. But he sees a lesson in the experience of struggling law schools.

In the April 21 post, Anderson writes that the number of retirement-age faculty in law schools is “enormous, likely larger than it has ever been. If faculties had looked beyond their own personal financial self-interest they could have easily contracted to meet the market demand and avoided the disastrous effects that have afflicted law students and now law schools. Sadly, the very faculty members whose institution provided them an outrageously rewarding career over many decades seemed the least likely to ‘pay it forward’ by helping to reduce expenses. Indeed, many decided to foist all the sacrifice of layoffs on junior faculty or staff, who truly had the most to lose from losing their jobs.

“Thus, the story of Whittier is a story of generational wealth shifting that is seen throughout tuition dependent law schools, and indeed throughout our country. The Millennial generation is expected to go deeply into debt to subsidize a population that is already (comparatively) wealthy.”

Hat tip to TaxProf Blog.