Suffolk University ends participation in public-service program for law students

Suffolk University, which currently has an ad campaign boasting how many of its law-school graduates are Massachusetts judges, is ending its commitment to the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service, which trains law students for careers in public service.

The news comes in a mailing from Rappaport Foundation Chairwoman Phyllis Rappaport today:

Suffolk University has recently communicated its inability to sustain its commitment to the Rappaport Center, Faculty Chair, and Rappaport Summer Fellows program. The university will release the endowment fund so we may continue the mission elsewhere. This change does not affect our Rappaport Institute programs at Harvard.

Rappaport writes the foundation will seek another local institution to take Suffolk's place in offering summer internships:

We are confident that we will find a new partner institution to continue the important work underway and to continue mentoring future generations of law students who aspire to public service. Scott Harshbarger, Chair of the Rappaport Center Advisory Board, will convene a small group of leaders from the advisory board and elsewhere that will help with the due diligence and decision-making needed to ensure a continuation of this work that is so beneficial to the Boston region and our Commonwealth.



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    Disappointing and I'd like to

    Disappointing and I'd like to see the reasons for this. The Rappaport Center has helped a lot of Suffolk Law students find their way into government and public service positions. It's been a calling card of the school and a good selling point.

    Suffolk Law is in serious financial distress

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    Suffolk Law is going through serious budget cuts. It grew itself into one of the largest law schools in the country, and now the number of law school applicants is plunging. A number of faculty positions and programs, including the highly regarded Advanced Legal Studies program for practicing attorneys, have been cut.

    Lots of things conspiring against Suffolk Law et al.

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    I don't know for sure that Suffolk Law is in financial distress, but the recent ad campaign (they never needed to advertise before) and the statement from Rappaport ("unable to sustain") certainly suggests this is the case.

    I am sad to say (not only as a Suffolk Law alum, but as a general observer of things in the legal world) that things are beginning to shake out as expected. A glut of lawyers and the introduction of a public law school in MA (that will be ABA accredited, if it is not already) is going to spell doom for the "non-elite" law schools (and by "non-elite" I mean those not in the top 50 in that silly U.S. News and World Report survey). Suffolk Law certainly contributes more than its share of lawyers to public service-type (read: government and non-profit) organizations, but you simply cannot charge students the same (or nearly the same) as the top 50 schools if that is going to be your niche.

    Suffolk has to cut tuition significantly, or it is toast. New England School of Law, Mass. School of Law and Western New England are all toast regardless.

    Not so special prediction: this phenomenon is coming to non-elite private colleges and universities at the undergraduate level, too. It's not just going to be the University of Phoenix and the for-profits that go down.

    I agree, but they have done

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    I agree, but they have done this to themselves in part. I'm a New England grad, and 10 years ago, I felt proud of my school for being so active in public service, criminal justice and generally being the "poor folk's" law school, but tuition has gone up significantly and they generally turned into a tuition mill. Now they are cutting faculty and admissions (because applications there have also dropped) and I fear for the future of the few truly great programs and professors there, such as the Justice Project which includes the Boston Innocence Project. Harvard fancies itself the last word on all things policy based, but if you've ever worked with their grads, you know the out of touch stereotype is good awful real. The death of public interest law at schools like Suffolk and New England will mean a much more Patrician Boston than it ever was back in the day.

    Yes; budget shortfalls

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    Suffolk is definitely having funding troubles, especially in the law school. Law school enrollment plunged this year, enough to have an impact for the next few years on budgeting. Also, Suffolk's endowment is not huge.

    Perhaps the ongoing real estate sales will balance the books somewhat, but SU is looking at a few tough years. I don't know enough about how these things happen to know if it would help, but maybe NESL could merge with Suffolk.

    Bimmer Figures

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    Maybe if Suffolk U and the law school didn't cost a BMW a year to attend, then their admissions wouldn't be falling so short.

    What kinda BMW?

    'cause that really makes a difference, as it'd take around 1.5 328is to cover a year of my alma mater...but an M6 would cover two years.

    Death of Required Courses was the Death of Suffolk Law

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    Suffolk Law School drank its Hemlock about 15 years ago. It cut the number of required courses, which were all necessary to pass the bar and made us better lawyers once we began practicing. Our bar pass rate, once our gold standard, is now our badge of shame. Then about 8 years ago Suffolk killed off fiducary relations as a required course - perhaps the most valuable discipline in legal practice. A slow-acting poison, as well as a fast one, kills off the host organism just as thoroughly.