March 29, 2012
Florida To Get It's Eleventh Law School?
Two stories are in the legal news about Florida law schools these days. One concerns the idea that a new law school may be in the offing for the Daytona Beach, Florida area. What with dropping applications and an uncertain job market it’s a wonder that the idea of opening a new law school has legs. Florida has law programs at Florida Coastal, Florida State, The University of Florida, Barry University, St. Thomas, the University of Miami, Nova University, and Stetson University. Did I leave anyone out? Oh yes, Florida A&M and Florida International University. That’s ten, one more than the number in Texas.
The usual rationale applies. The market is underserved, though I don’t know if that is the market for lawyers or the (diminishing) market for potential law students. The school’s proponents have a few things going in their favor. The National Law Journal reports that the school would keep tuition costs lower than other schools by possibly using a vacant police station as the site of the school. Other savings would come by keeping courses focused on skills rather than vanity “law and” style classes. I can’t disagree with that focus, though I think as the law school matures (assuming it gets that far) there will be the inevitable fight between the practitioners and the academics over the focus of the school. It will be like the vampires and werewolves without the teen appeal.
The second story comes from the Independent Florida Alligator out of the University of Florida. It points out that the UF Levin College of Law had 10.4 fewer applications than last year. UF officials are quoted as saying the drop in applications is in line with national trends. Michelle Adorno, assistant Dean of Admissions stated the lower number of jobs available at graduation is one factor. She believes applicants are becoming better educated consumers. If a well-established law school is seeing this , good luck to the promoters of the law school in Daytona. You’ll have some pretty steep competition for applicants.
Edit: Maybe 12th or 13th. Cooley is opening a campus in Tampa, and somehow Ave Maria slipped my mind. This is an underserved market? Maybe we'll see a day where law schools dot communities like big box stores.