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Creighton Law School Is Reducing the Size of Its Incoming Class; Nebraska Prisons Are Overcrowded

Although there were several interesting SCOTUS decisions handed down yesterday, I instead decided to cover some local issues with national implications.

Creighton University School of Law announced that they are reducing the number of seats for incoming law school students. Tthe Omaha World Herald’s story leads with this:

Too many lawyers. Too few jobs.

A newly minted law degree is not turning out to be the passport to lucrative employment that aspiring lawyers expected when they signed up for law school and took on tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

With the tight job market in mind, the Creighton University School of Law recently informed its alumni that it would be reducing its class size by 20 students for each of the next four years.

Dean Marianne Culhane wrote a letter to Creighton Law alumni saying that although “demand for a Creighton legal educations remains high . . . we feel a moral obligation to admit fewer students until employment prospects for new attorneys improve.”

Over at Above the Law, Elie Mystal was skeptical of Dean Culhane’s explanation, claiming that: “Law school deans who take seriously their responsibilities to those they entice into a legal education don’t really exist.”

In my view that seems to be an unwarranted judgment. I had lunch with Dean Culhane in May, and she voiced her concerns about the lagging job market for law school graduates and touched on Creighton Law’s plan to reduce numbers at the school. I can say, unequivocally, that Dean Culhane has a genuine concern for her students and that is the one reason CLS made the move.

The ABA Journal also has coverage of the story here.

Update:  I received an email from Dean Culhanne. She graciously deflected credit for the change in class size, and she said CLS’s move was a “faculty-driven decision” supported by the University President and others.

On the prison front, Nebraska Corrections Director Bob Houston acknowledged that the state is losing the battle to reduce prison overcrowding. The Omaha World Herald starts the story with this:

A deluge of new prison inmates — many convicted of sex crimes — is overwhelming the state’s effort to relieve overcrowding in the state corrections facilities.

The state has been ramping up a program to accelerate parole for short-term, low-risk inmates and reduce overcrowding, which has hovered around 140 percent of capacity for several months.

But record-high admissions to Nebraska prisons, along with still-transitioning rehabilitative programs, have left those efforts well short of expectations.

Instead of populations falling at the nine state correctional facilities, numbers have risen in the past few months, reaching 4,482, or 141.17 percent of capacity, last week.

It will be interesting to see if the Nebraska legislature enacts some changes to ameliorate the overcrowding problem or if the State will go the California route—forced to make changes by prisoners’ rights litigation in federal courts.

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Articles posted in the Cockle Blog are for informational purposes only. Nothing in the Cockle Blog should be taken for legal advice. In fact, Cockle Blog articles are not a substitute for proper legal research conducted by licensed attorneys.

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