The University of California Hastings College of the Law will reduce enrollment by 240 students over the next three years — a 20 percent decrease. Administrators cast the move as an acknowledgement that legal academia has become bloated.
The move represents one of the most drastic attempts by any law school thus far to adjust to major shifts in the legal academia, including plummeting law school applications and reduced law firm hiring. Other law schools have reduced enrollment in recent years, but in smaller degrees.
"The critics of legal education are right," Dean Frank Wu said in a telephone interview on April 30. "There are too many law schools and too many law students, and we're going to fix that. We would easily be able to fill 425 seats [the size of the this year's incoming class], but to do so would be irresponsible."
Nationwide, law school applications fell by about 15 percent this year, according to the Law School Admission Council. By contrast, Hastings saw only a 7 percent decline in applications.