With five UC law schools established, is there really a need for a sixth?
UC San Diego, the only major Cali city without a public law school, thinks so. The school has revived a plan to cooperate with California Western Law School to possibly merge the public university and private law school.
In a meeting last month, a committee of faculty and administrators discussed the idea, stressing that the school would operate without public funding, at least in the short term according The San Diego Union-Tribune.
That’s a significant point, of course, given the grim financial condition of California’s university system. According to UC’s Commission on the Future, the state’s per-student funding has fallen 40% since 1990 and is staring at a $1.15 billion budget gap in funding from the state, which decreased 20% from the 2008-09 budget to 2009-10’s.
Quoted in an editorial in the Union-Tribune, UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said she, “would not approve anything going forward in these tight economic times if it were not self-supporting for the foreseeable future. I don’t know if that means five years, 10 years, 15 years, but it’s not short term. It’s not one year or two years.”
It’s not the first time a law school was birthed from a merger, as WSJ’s law blog points out, but in the cases of both Dickinson and Detroit College law schools the mutually beneficial reasons were more clear.
The Dickinson merger with Penn State University, which began in 1997, allowed Penn State to add to their roster of graduate programs while giving Dickinson access to the large University’s fund-raising operations.
Same for the Detroit and Michigan State combination, which the school now touts as an affiliation. The union also allowed for an expansion of programs, such as the JD/MBA program.
This is not adding a new law school to the already crowded law school field, but it’s fair to point out that California Western is a “4th Tier” school under the U.S. News ranking system, which means it would not be an immediate competitor to other UC system schools like Boalt, UCLA and UC-Davis, which are “Tier 1” schools.
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