28 August 2013

3 X 1 = 2

Hot off the presses is the news here that the owners of the for-profit Charleston (South Carolina) School of Law have agreed to sell the school to InfiLaw, another for-profit legal educator, which already operates two law schools in the same region. (Charleston's ownership had already let InfiLaw begin to manage its law school.) Neither Charlotte School of Law nor Florida Coastal School of Law (Jacksonville) is even 250 miles from Charleston.

Maintaining three law schools profitably when they market to largely the same prospective students seems unlikely. Which will be folded into the other remains to be seen but I'm guessing--and it's no more than a guess--is that Charlotte will be the one to go. There's only one other law school in South Carolina but more competition than anyone would want in North Carolina (University of North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Campbell, Elon, and North Carolina Central). It's true that Florida also has a large number of law schools but Florida is a big state (by population and geography) and there's no competition in the north-east part where Florida Coastal is found.

So what will become the "great contraction" looks likely to be about to begin. There are more than enough law schools in America given declining enrollments. Law schools without university support or a strong mission will be hard pressed to survive even if we can expect the market to rebound from its current over-correction. And law schools that exist only to make a profit will be even harder pressed to convince their investors to stay what will continue to be a rocky course.

No comments:

Post a Comment