When Whittier College officials announced this week they would close their affiliated law school in Costa Mesa, students and faculty reacted with shock, outrage and some tears.
But legal experts said Thursday that Whittier has long been on a downslide as it struggles with challenges hitting many law schools across the country.
Applications to law schools nationwide are down nearly 50 percent since 2005, prompting less-prestigious campuses to accept students with lower GPAs and law school admission test scores. State bar passage rates have fallen — hitting a 32-year low in California last summer. Fewer full-time, long-term legal jobs are available. Meanwhile, tuition costs and student debt loads have soared.
All of these factors came to a head at Whittier, which is the nation’s first fully accredited law school to shut down in three decades. It will stop accepting new applicants and close after its current students graduate.
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