A former Hastings law school dean says that struggling law schools need to make big changes to survive, and mergers may be their solution in a difficult economy.
Frank H. Wu, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law who served as dean from 2010-2015, knows the trouble they've seen. Facing financial pressures from falling enrollments that rocked law schools across the country, many schools lowered their admissions standards and then saw their students' bar pass rates fall.
In 2016, Hastings' pass rate dropped to an embarrassing low of 51 percent. Hastings dean David Faigman called upon the law school to improve, but also blasted California's bar examiners for making the test too hard. "This is outrageous and constitutes unconscionable conduct on the part of a trade association that masquerades as a state agency," he said.
At the same time, the job market shrank for lawyers and fewer students enrolled for law school. Wu says the problem is economic.