Pacific McGeorge School of Law to Rescale
Last week Pacific's McGeorge School of Law announced a restructuring of its staff. This was part of a strategic effort that began in 2009 to rescale and restructure the law school to an appropriate size and with an enhanced curriculum in the face of major shifts in the legal profession.
"The legal profession and legal education are experiencing transformational change," said Dean Jay Mootz. "In line with these changes, McGeorge has been innovating and restructuring in recent years to ensure that we are providing our students with the type of legal education that will make them competitive when they graduate - and for the next 20 to 30 years of their professional life."
University President Pamela A. Eibeck has charged the law school with re-envisioning itself to sustain and build on its position as one of the best law schools in California.
"McGeorge has built a reputation as a vibrant law school with a warmly supportive culture, where the faculty is truly passionate about teaching," said Eibeck. "The University is committed to continuing these values as we transform the school to a new size with a curriculum that will prepare our students for meaningful and successful careers after graduation."
The law school has begun a comprehensive review of its curriculum in light of changes in legal practice and education. The faculty will produce a curriculum that provides McGeorge graduates a competitive advantage in the emerging legal marketplace by adding a much stronger experiential component focused on developing the skills and technological expertise essential to contemporary practice.
Last year, McGeorge began to enact its plan to gradually reduce its enrollment from 1,000 students to 600 by 2015. This represents a 40 percent reduction over several years. McGeorge has made similar reductions in staff and faculty to match the new student class size. Staff decreased from 158 to approximately 85 over the past three years, primarily through voluntary, incentivized attrition and retirements and removing open positions. McGeorge eliminated 10 staff positions in May 2012 and another 9.5 positions this month. Incentives are also being offered to faculty in order to adjust to the new size of the law school. No further staff reductions are planned at this time.
The restructuring process began at McGeorge in 2009 when the faculty adopted a new strategic plan aimed at better serving students, including adding new graduate degree programs on the Sacramento campus that will augment the education of legal professionals. The first such program will launch this fall: a new Master of Science in Law program.
Changes Reflect Nationwide Trend
Nationwide, the numbers of students taking the LSAT and applying to law schools have declined sharply, while job prospects for new lawyers are at the lowest point since the 1990 recession. Law schools around the country are changing the way they do business in response. Other Northern California law schools have recently reduced the size of their enrollment and gone to waitlists. Read more in recent stories in Inside Higher Ed and reports in the ABA Journal online.