Law Schools Adjust to Changing Times

Article excerpt

The economy has had an obvious effect on higher education - higher luition, scaled-back programs and budget cutbacks, lor example. However, there are more subtle changes afoot when one drills down to how tilings now work in some disciplines of graduate education. As The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine reviews the Top 25 Law Schools for llispanics, some are actively involved in innovations that are sweeping the nation and influencing law school classes of the future.

First, here's a snapshot of what the numbers mean on this year's Top 25 list of law schools with the most Hispanic degree-earners. The most obvious conclusion that can be reached when looking at the 39 schools on the list (39 since there are multiple ties) is that Hispatu'cs are broadening the playing field in terms of states with significant numbers o! Hispanic law degree-earners. The leader of the pack is California with 11 schools on the list, followed by Florida and Texas, each with six schools. Illinois follows with three schools; the District of Columbia aud Massachusetts each have two; and New Mexico, Maryland, New Jersey, Colorado and Michigan have one school each on the list.

Breaking down, the list further, Florida International University not only ranks second for highest number of Hispanic degree-earners in die Top 25, it also boasts the highest percentage (46 percent). And Hispanic women edged out Hispanic men at 22 of the 39 schools listed. Data for this list are limited to 201 1 doctor's degree - professional practice. The information is derived from various lists compUed by NCES and its IPEDS data system, NOES has created a new data-gathering system. One outcome of the new system is that not all schools are on every data list. The Hispanic Outlook has compiled all available data from all NCES lists to give as fair representation as possible to all institutions during this transition.

As for current trends in law schools, schools are dealing with the new reality that in the last five years, although a bad economy has caused a spike in law school applications, the number of students opting to take the LSAT is at its lowest level in a decade, according to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) . The number taking the LSAT decreased by 9-6 percent in 2010-11 to 155,050, from 171 ,500 in 2009-10, according to LSAC.

Law schools are trying to come up with ways to entice students to attend their institutions. One of the most popular ideas is the concept of accelerated law programs. These take into account rising concerns among prospective students about the amount of money and time it takes to obtain a law degree. In terms of money, it's not only the cost of the degree, but losing three years of earning power while pursuing that degree. …