Imagine, if you will, an America with fewer lawyers.

An analysis by David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), Looking at the Law School ‘Crisis’ from the Perspective of the University demonstrates that  as many as 80 law schools are at risk of closure (via Instapundit).

…. But as many as 20 law schools could be closed in the near future and many others will be forced to adjust and adapt. … My best guess would be that 80 law schools are at some degree of risk. The risks will in many cases be managed by shrinkage, layoffs, mergers and consolidations, distance learning and computer-based instruction strategies, and by adoption of additional kinds of educational missions. Accessing new applicant pools that benefit from some modified forms of education in law while not seeking the right to practice in the traditional sense will also produce new versions of law schools or new components within schools. The changes will be exciting but for many they will be painful.

Just as the legal employment market is over-saturated due to the surplus numbers of graduates law schools pumped into the system over the past twenty years, the productive capacity of the law school “industry” is entirely out of balance with all foreseeable need for law graduates. Given the direction the traditional employment markets for lawyers are heading no more than 80-100 law schools could easily serve America’s need for new law graduates.

With various projections of law employment (as we know it) put at 23,000 available positions annually (and quite possibly substantially lower) compared to the 45,000 that was the norm for a time, there is no need for 203 (ABA) fully accredited law schools, for another five provisionally accredited schools, or for the graduates of the numerous California non-ABA law schools approved by that state’s Bar, and another ten or so new or entirely unaccredited law schools. California by itself has an amazing number of law schools, 60 in total, with only five of the law schools public and fifty-five private, some with real universities and others that are either free standing or even existing primarily in electronic hyperspace. Taking all types of law schools together California is home to about 25 percent of the total number of institutions offering graduate education in law. …

The fact that California is home to sixty law schools suggests an impending “domino-like” collapse of a number of those institutions, particularly given the fact that there are already problems with a shortage of “law jobs” in that state. A similar observation seems applicable to Florida. Ohio has nine law schools, Michigan five, Indiana another five and Pennsylvania eight. Not counting the “national” and “flagship” law schools in those states (Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana Bloomington, Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania) that leaves 22 law schools to compete for a limited pool of applicants in a region of static, aging or declining population with compromised economic systems, and high public expenditures on social priorities.

Read the original article: (TaxProf Blog)