What is the “optimal number” of law schools?

As the number of law school applicants in the U.S. continues to decline, rumors of impending law school mergers are swirling around many North American law school faculties. (Law professor Jeff Redding, for example, writes in this blog post, “The recent news out of Saint Paul, Minnesota that William Mitchell and Hamline are merging their law schools was intriguing in many ways, not least because of the ways that this announcement fueled speculation that Mitchell/Hamline was just the first in a series of soon-to-be-made announcements as to forthcoming law school mergers.”) But at the same time, there are “only” 205 ABA-approved law schools in the U.S.A., including three law schools in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where we began our teaching career. (By way of comparison, there are 989 accredited engineering schools and about 220 or so graduate-level programs in economics in the U.S.) Considering that the United States is one of the most prosperous and populous countries in the world, are there too many law schools in the U.S. … or too few?

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