Struggling Valparaiso Law School to Close (1)

By Melissa Heelan Stanzione

Valparaiso University Law School, which has been struggling with declining enrollment despite an upward trend nationally after several tough years, will close its doors.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision and is the result of several years of careful discernment,” Frederick G. Kraegel, chairman of the Board of Directors of Valparaiso University, said Oct. 30 in a statement.

“We have explored a number of strategic alternatives,” Kraegel said. “Despite these efforts, we have not been able to achieve a more positive outcome.”

The law school, founded in 1879 and located in Valparaiso, Ind., has struggled in recent years. It cited declining law school enrollment and “a lessening demand for those entering the legal profession” as factors in its closing in 2020.

The American Bar Association publicly censured the school in 2016 for failing to comply with admissions standards. The ABA lifted the censure in 2017 but it appears the school never regained its footing and suspended admission for 2018.

There are approximately 100 second- and third-year students enrolled at the school, which isn’t ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best Law Schools.

Many of the lowest-ranked law schools in the United States have failed to recover from the post-financial crisis downturn in student applications.

Other small schools that have closed include Whittier Law School in California, Charlotte Law School, and the John Marshall Law School’s Savannah campus.

Valparaiso will continue to teach-out the current students “in a timely manner and cease operations,” the statement said.

A plan to transfer the school to Middle Tennessee State University this past summer fell through.

Dean David R. Cleveland’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg Law.