The University at Buffalo Law School plans to trim the number of incoming students and faculty members for the next school year.
The school will reduce the number of first-year students from the current 200 to 225 to fewer than 200, and will cut the number of faculty members from 48 to 40 through retirement incentives, UB spokesman John DellaContrada confirmed Tuesday.
UB’s Law School faces the same issues as other law schools across the country: fewer applicants and uncertain job prospects for graduates.
Makau Mutua, the dean of UB’s Law School, declined to comment.
UB’s law school tied for 100th place, with four other schools, in the current U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of some 200 law schools across the country.
UB, with an enrollment of 650 full- and part-time law students, reported a drop in applications, from 1,894 in 2010 to 1,146 last year.
The American Bar Association has noted a trend in decreasing law school enrollment. What’s more, law schools have produced far more graduates than the job market can absorb in recent years. In 2012, one law job was available for every two new graduates, according to Forbes magazine.
The track record for UB graduates echoes that statistic: Of 209 graduates in 2012, 109 reported landing a full-time job that required passing the bar exam, the ABA reported.
Other graduates took short-term or part-time positions. One graduate enrolled in graduate school, and 35 either were looking for jobs, opted not to work or their status was unknown.
According to the ABA, last year’s first-year enrollment in law programs at 202 ABA-accredited schools was 39,675, the lowest level in nearly 40 years and a rapid decline from the all-time high just three years earlier of 52,488.
Analysts point to the combination of fewer jobs and the high cost of a legal education.
At UB, annual tuition and fees come to about $24,000, bringing the cost of the three-year program to $72,000. At private colleges, tuition averages closer to $40,000 annually. And schools ranked among the top 10 in the country charge more than $50,000.