By now, it's clear that law schools are admitting students whose bar exam chops aren't what they should be. Law schools and lawyers have certainly seen better days.
However, at least one school has been trying a novel new way of surviving the rough waters: Gonzaga University School of Law. For a number of years now, it appears that Gonzaga has been systematically offering buyouts to all tenured faculty. With fewer mouths to feed, the school has dodged (so far) the need to implement the law school equivalent of No Child Left Behind.
Major Drop, No Dilution
According to numbers collected by Law School Transparency, Gonzaga's applicant pool dropped a little more than a third from 2011 to 2014 and enrollment dropped by 28 percent. Enrollment dropped from 183 to 125 in the years 2010 to 2014, amounting to a third of a drop.
With limited money, Gonzaga is only one of many schools that has had to make tough decisions concerning survival. Rather than lowering standards in order to admit a larger pool of paying applicants, Dean Jane Korn has offered the tenured faculty buyouts hoping to avoid watering the wine that is the incoming student body. According to reports, 17 faculty members have received Korn's offer and four have accepted. "We did this to avoid problems in the future," she said.
It appears that Korn doesn't anticipate any further need for more cuts at this time.
Bucking the Trend
Gonzaga is one of the few schools that we're aware of that has openly decided to let faculty go instead of joining the "at-risk" bandwagon. Though few schools have openly admitted to students who appear to be at risk of failing the bar exam, LSAT scores across the nation have uniformly dropped over the last few years.