The media and the blogosphere are aflame with commentary on a New York Times article earlier this week that shows law school applications have declined by almost 50% over the past decade.

According to the Times, several law schools are scrambling to reexamine their programs in the light of this new student drought. Maybe it took the lack of warm bodies to finally grab their attention – the old law of supply and demand has finally made its impact felt.

Universities that have been getting fat off the law school hog are now offering tuition discounts, while others are considering dropping their JD programs to two years instead of three or making the third year “more relevant” by providing hands-on training.

With a shrinking job market for attorneys and a plentitude of grads, salaries have fallen off their own fiscal cliff, leaving prospective students to decide (rightly) that bearing a staggering load of debt with no promise of a job is a career dead-ender.

My hope is that law schools struggling to reinvent their programs will consider partnering with their business school counterparts and offer legal students the business and marketing training they need to be relevant in a 21st century law practice. 

With Biglaw continuing to trim their staffs, small firms and solos will likely be the best alternative for new law school grads.   And they won’t succeed unless they can bring some real-world business and marketing savvy to the table.

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