- Wilmington University is the latest news that it is starting a new law school
- The Delaware campus joins Jacksonville University and High Point University in hosting a law school
(Reuters) – Wilmington University in Delaware on Thursday said it will launch a new law school next year, marking the third new U.S. law school in the pipeline this year.
The new schools follow a nearly decade-long decline in law schools. Until this fall, no new law schools had opened since 2014, and at least seven had closed during that period due to poor funding, low enrollment, accreditation problems and ownership issues.
Officials at universities launching new law schools say they see a need for local and affordable options for aspiring lawyers.
Wilmington plans to enroll its first law school class in the fall, making it the second law school in Delaware. The aim is to initially enroll 50 full-time students and 15 part-time students, bringing the total to 500 students.
Full-time tuition will be $24,000 next year, less than half of the $57,376 first-year tuition at Widener University Delaware Law School. Both universities are unique.
“Someone has to do something about the law school debt,” said Phillip Closius, founding dean of Wilmington University School of Law, at a Thursday news conference.
The new school will have an official curriculum in the first two years, a departure from the traditional model of requiring special courses in the first year, Closius said. Each class will include closed-book, multiple-choice and essay tests similar to the bar exam format, he added.
The school seeks accreditation by the American Bar Association, which allows graduates to sit for the bar exam.
Jacksonville University in February announced it will open a new law school, following the closing of Florida State College of Law in 2021. The Jacksonville University College of Law launched in of August with 14 students and plans to expand.
High Point University—a private Christian university in North Carolina—also announced earlier this year that it will start a new law school, with plans to open in early 2024.
All three new law schools have rejected experienced legal counsel. Closius is the former dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, and Jacksonville law dean Nicholas Allard is the former dean of Brooklyn Law School. Regent’s University has named Mark Martin its first president.
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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at email@example.com