Monday, December 12, 2022

Fifteenth closure: Penn State Law to be merged into Penn State Dickinson Law

An anonymous poster mentioned in the previous article that Penn State Law and Penn State Dickinson Law are merging. Although nothing official has been announced, it appears that the Dickinson campus, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is going to absorb the much larger campus of Penn State Law, which is in University Park.

The poster opined that this merger constitutes the closure of a law school. I agree: it's on a par with Hamline and Mitchell, several years ago. Merging law schools is a discreet and subtle way to effect the closure of one of them, without drawing adverse attention.

Of course, there will be plenty of talk of "synergy" or "improvements" or "economies of scale", all of it designed to cast this effective closure in a favorable light. Students, however, are already complaining that the news was broken to them just before their exams, when they did not need the stress and worry of uncertainties about where they would be next year, and that the president severely curtailed the period for questions about this topic of great interest to everyone in either law school.

In any event, the number of law schools that have closed in the past six years now stands at fifteen:

Cooley (one campus)

Hamline (merged with Mitchell)

Indiana Tech





Arizona Summit

Cooley (a second campus)

Thomas Jefferson (relinquished ABA accreditation in favor of state accreditation)

La Verne (relinquished ABA accreditation in favor of state accreditation)


Cooley (a third campus)

Florida Coastal

Penn State Law (probably) 

Which scam-school will be the sixteenth to close? Appalachian, Ohio Northern, Faulkner, Western State, Mississippi College, Golden Gate, District of Columbia, Vermont, Western New England, Charleston, the rump of Cooley, and a number of others seem like prime candidates. Feel free to discuss this topic below.


  1. It was Hamline which closed, as the Mitchell campus remined open.

    1. It's more than the campus. First, the post-merger school describes itself as an independent non-profit with its own independent board of trustees. Second, it just makes sense. Hamline Law was a classical 1970's money grab that like, say, Whittier had turned into a cash black hole threatening to suck in the parent's whole endowment. On the other hand Mitchell was a classical indie where the faculty knows their retirement income dies when the school dies and will therefore do whatever it takes to keep the ball in play. And it wasn't a bad deal. Snuff out a competitor while absorbing whatever value might have been in the competitor's brand. Possibly increase your students' average LSAT score and GPA. They probably got the library, were there any endowed chairs of other endowment funds that transferred over?

  2. California Bar accreditation is a misnomer, as the California Bar is not recognized (by CHEA or the United States Department of Education) as an accreditor. California Bar approval is a more apt term.

    1. Agreed, but "state-accredited" is in common use. "State-approved" would likely be misunderstood.

    2. Yeah, plus to make matters even more confusing, in Cali there's a tier below even the calbar "approved" schools. These schools are just "registered" with the bar, as opposed to approved by it. So, the bar hasn't "approved" them at all, so much as just being aware of the school's existence in case there's a complaint. So there's three types in CA: ABA, non-ABA cal bar approved, and non-ABA "registered." It's really weird.

    3. I was curious about the third category of registered schools and why anyone would go to one. The two websites I checked did indicate eligibility of their graduates to sit for the CA bar exam. Tuition at Taft Law School is $365 / credit with 96 required credits. Not including books and other fees.

    4. There are more than a dozen of those unaccredited "registered" law schools in California. One of them, Larry's Law School (I'm not making this up), operated above a defunct Mexican restaurant in Acton, California. It appears to be (or to have been) nothing but a tutoring service run by the eponymous Larry, with not enough students in its history to field a softball team. There's a People's Law School—I don't remember the exact name—that poses as left-wing; the students pay only a few thousand a year (still a lot for a degree that is all but useless) but are also required to do unpaid administrative and janitorial work so that the so-called school can operate without hiring staff.

      I hope that I don't have to say that attending any of these things would be an utterly terrible idea, even worse than going to Cooley.

    5. If the unaccredited registered school gives one a crack at the Cali Bar Exam, how is Cooley a 'better' choice, all things being equal, given that both schools will not result in a legal career, absent very strong Type A personality traits in the individual.

    6. The unaccredited school doesn't necessarily give one a crack at the California bar exam: first one must pass the "baby bar", and many people at those unaccredited dumps fail even that.

      I agree, however, that the difference between Cooley and an unaccredited school is of no importance, since NEITHER school is worth attending. (The same, incidentally, is true of many prestigious schools.)

  3. Nando's own Third Tier Drake is struggling to get even 500 applications per cycle. It's parent university is raising money for a new $150 million administrative palace, and has been running operating deficits since 2014. If that construction project gets bungled the whole place my close.

  4. If you go on The Law School Reddit idiots cheerfully boast about the wonderful decision they made to enroll in law school. I firmly believe that for many students it is just a way to get 3 more years of student loans and avoid working for a living. If you have a degree in "Philosophy" and are living with your parents, working at the local grocery store and worried about your student loans from undergrad, "law school" is a 3Y all-expenses paid vacation. Sure, you won't get a job afterwards, and will be even farther in debt, but to gullible short-term thinkers, three more years of school sure beats working for a living.

    1. The only law school in Pennsylvania that should exist is the U of Pennsylvania. New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland should not have even one.

  5. You asked who is next. Well, the only for-profit ABA schools remaining are Charleston (failed infilaw takeover now trying to go nonprofit), Western State (passed around like an unwanted foster child between Argosy, some megachurch, and now finally westcliff University), and John Marshall (GA) (closed its Savannah campus in a shrink-to-survive bid).

    All three are on-and-off with failing the bar passage standard, and we all know the for-profits are low-hanging fruit/sacrificial lambs for regulators. So I think it's gotta be one of those three. But out of those three, I'd say Charleston first, because it has unusually highly involved state and local-level regulators/politicians who have been active in blocking things like the Infilaw bid. So they have fewer options than the others, because there seem to be local authorities who'd rather see it close than get acquired (good on them). So their current strategy is to go nonprofit, but that was exactly what Florida Coastal tried unsuccessfully to do right before it closed, because without Infilaw capital pledged to back it up, it couldn't meet financial viability standards set by the feds.

    So all things considered I'd say all three of these are on the chopping block, but the first to fall I think would be Charleston. John Marshall's been around a really long time (1933) and Western State found a buyer. So basically I think the for-profits fall first, and among the 3 remaining Charleston is prolly most vulnerable. Heck their president is taking a $1 salary and paid the place's debt to Infilaw out of his own pocket to try and get it into good enough financial straights to be able to get approval to go nonprofit. That's desperation if I've ever seen it.

    1. Interesting analysis. You may well be right. I had thought that Charleston might survive for a few years by virtue of its size (it's in the top third or so for first-year enrollment), but the InfiLaw trio collapsed quickly despite being far bigger.

      Western State enrolled only 23 first-year students last year, far below Old Guy's estimated threshold of 75 for long-term survival.

      I share your view that John Marshall is likely to be the last of those three to close down.

      For years I have been unconvinced that "for-profit" was a meaningful distinction, because the allegedly non-profit institutions definitely seek rents; they just spend them on salaries and junkets for scam-professors and scam-staff rather than distributing them to shareholders. In any event, Appalachian and Ohio Northern both seem likely to go tits up. Maybe Cooley will reduce itself to one campus or the other (it now has one in Michigan and one in Florida) before shutting up shop for good.

    2. Which one has:
      1. The least number of applicants?
      2. The highest Accept rate?

    3. I don't know, but the ABA's Standard 509 reports are supposed to come out tomorrow, so maybe check for yourself:

    4. Agree that there may not be a REAL difference between for-profit and not, same thing arises with hospitals. Can you really tell the difference between a for-profit hospital and a nonprofit one that charges the same or similar prices (and gets the same insurance rates) for the same services?

      But, in the higher ed space, regulators do seem to see a difference whether it's real or not. They definitely single the for-profit schools out, and so when a school gets in trouble they often do try to go nonprofit because they certainly seem to think that status helps them fly more below the radar. Florida Coastal tried it, Charleston is trying it, and I didn't realize it in my previous post but it looks like John Marshall is headed that way too:

      According to the article above, as of 2021 (and nothing's changed since that I know of) there is literally only ONE ABA accredited for-profit law school in the country that actually plans to stay that way, and that's Western State. Whether the difference is real or imagined, it can be little-argued that the regulators and the schools believe it's safer to be nonprofit.

    5. Vermont, Ave Maria. and U of DC are all out of compliance with ABA bar passage standards. I'm going to say Vermont is the next one to crumble.