Credit UNH Law Law schools across the country have struggled in the last decade with declining enrollment.

In that time, the University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce School of Law has seen many changes. It’s no longer a private school and it’s seen growing deficits.

The school spent more than double its operating budget last fiscal year, but university officials say these losses are an investment in the law school’s long-term success and things are starting to look up.

NHPR’s Morning Edition Rick Ganley spoke with the dean of UNH Law, Megan Carpenter.

(Editor’s note: this transcript has been edited for clarity.)

Your enrollment numbers have gone up this year. Why do you think that is?

For a few reasons, some connected to kind of an overarching strategy that we’ve had in place for for several years. We saw a national downturn in applications to law school approaching about 40 percent. And law schools took two different kind of approaches to this problem. I think a lot of law schools decided to reduce their admissions standards in an effort to keep their enrollment up and their revenue up.

So accepting more students that they would not have ordinarily?

Exactly. And I think that was primarily a business sort of revenue issue for the law schools. Some public law schools didn’t suffer that problem quite as much, because it’s very common for public law schools to receive direct state funding. We do not, at UNH Law, receive direct state funding. But the university decided to take a different approach. And the university decided that really the key to long term success for New Hampshire’s law school was to kind of do the opposite, which is to shrink the size of the entering class and raise the profile of the entering students and create truly kind of an excellent program of legal education. So the idea being, we will still be very selective and increase our rankings nationally and be become a school that people want to come to. And that’s how our enrollment will eventually go up. Exactly. Through that investment, we […]

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