With a difficult job market making students increasingly hesitant to take on massive student loan debt, nearly all law schools in Massachusetts — one of the top areas in the nation for legal education — have seen enrollment suffer.
The persistent decline has forced many law schools to take drastic measures. Suffolk University, where first-year enrollment fell 15 percent last year, recently offered buyouts to all faculty with tenure or with renewable long-term contracts, and Western New England University in Springfield has pared back its faculty among a number of cost-cutting measures.
Boston University and Northeastern University have also seen enrollment fall, and even highly regarded Harvard University had seen applications dip, before rallying somewhat the past two years.
By all indications, the decline at many schools will continue this fall. Nationally, the number of applicants for the incoming class has dropped nearly 8 percent from last year, according to the Law School Admission Council.