Northwestern School of Law to cut class size, keep tuition hike low

Paulina Firozi, Development Editor

Northwestern’s School of Law said Monday it will reduce class sizes and keep tuition hikes at record lows due to a recent decline in applications.

Starting this fall, class sizes will be scaled back by 10 percent, with 20 to 25 fewer students admitted each year, Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez said in a letter to the law school community.

At the same time, tuition will only be raised 3 percent, the lowest increase in 40 years, according to the letter. Law students faced the same hike this school year, when the 3 percent bump raised tuition from $51,620 to $53,168.

NU will also increase financial aid by 25 percent over the next two years to combat the debt some students are left with after graduation.

“We know that a first-class innovative legal education need not be provided with insufficient regard to students’ economic circumstances,” Rodriguez said in the letter. “We can be great and efficient, elite and compassionate.”

Forty-seven percent of law schools increased financial aid for this school year, and another 41 percent kept financial aid levels on par with last year, according to a study by Kaplan Test Prep in November.

Class sizes at the School of Law are shrinking in response to a decline in applicants due to rising tuition and a weak job market, according to the letter. Only 280 NU undergraduate students applied to law schools across the country in the 2010-2011 school year, Kaplan spokesman Russell Schaffer wrote in an email to The Daily.

Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected 73,600 new lawyer jobs will be available from 2010 to 2020. Rodriguez wrote 40,000 students graduate each year from American Bar Association-approved law schools. In October, the Washington Post reported that 132,757 new lawyers had entered the job market since 2010.

NU is not alone in its class-size reduction. The same Kaplan study showed 51 percent of law schools had cut entering class sizes, and 63 percent cited a shrinking job market in the legal industry.

— Paulina Firozi