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With the economy down, law school enrollment — and student anxieties — are up. Deans, faculty and students can only speculate why this year’s law school enrollments have surged nationwide, but most point to the downturn in the economy. Although Stanford Law School, Hastings College of the Law and Santa Clara University School of Law watched the same number of students enroll this year as last, the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law saw its enrollment spike 13 percent, and the University of San Francisco School of Law’s rose 9 percent. “The worse the economy is, the more people seem to go to law school,” said Jeffrey Brand, dean of the USF School of Law. Many law schools expect an economy-driven increase in applications for next fall. But this year, the downturn didn’t leave much time for laid off or jaded dot-commers to apply. The first significant wave of high-tech layoffs hit just as law school applications came due toward the end of 2000. That left little time for prospective applicants to study for the LSAT, gather up letters of recommendation, and mail in their applications. Still, law school applications nationwide rose 5.6 percent — the largest increase in a decade — according to The New York Times. “I wonder if inside the industry, they knew something was coming sooner,” said Rachel Moran, a professor at Boalt. Moran speculated that “people who might have otherwise gone to dot-coms are coming here.” Moran felt the full effect of Boalt’s larger student body the first day she showed up to teach her class on torts. One hundred and two students — instead of the usual 90 — had packed themselves into the room. “It was a very strange experience to be teaching this class with students on the floor. We just soldiered on,” Moran said. “I then called immediately afterwards and said something must be done.” The school quickly moved Moran’s class — along with other first-year classes — into Booth Auditorium, which can seat approximately 240 students. A faculty member at Boalt since 1983, Moran had never taught a class with a microphone until this year. Now, she lectures with a microphone and makes the students pass another microphone around to ask questions. “I would hate for us to bump up by 10 percent because I think it affects the quality of teaching,” said Hastings’ academic dean Leo Martinez. Despite the increase in first-year class sizes, both deans at Boalt and USF said they expect to accept the same amount of transfer students as they have in recent years. MORE WORRIES But students at Bay Area law schools are coping with extra angst over the economy’s downturn. “I think a lot of people are quite concerned,” said Sonal Mehta, a third-year student at Boalt and editor-in-chief of the Berkeley Technology Law Journal. “Students are definitely trying to aim their interviews at a place where they’ll have more stability in a year.” Whereas last year’s law school graduates entered a job seeker’s market, this year’s third-year students face an employer’s marketplace. Students say that more third-year students this year than last came back to campus without offers in hand from the firms they’d worked at as summer associates. And even though students wouldn’t start work until next fall — a full year away — many are worried that some of the biggest firms in Silicon Valley may still be hard-pressed to find work for the summer associates to whom they’ve already made offers. With news of the Cooley Godward and Fenwick & West layoffs fresh in their minds, third-year students are especially anxious over the coming round of on-campus interviews. “Firms are interviewing 3Ls, but how many are they going to make offers to?” a third-year student at Boalt said. Nevertheless, “there’s some measure of optimism that the firms have adjusted to where they will be OK.” Mayhugh “Skip” Horne, director of law career services at SCU School of Law, sees an upside for third-years who didn’t receive offers at the end of their summer associate stint. “Whereas last year, if you didn’t receive an offer there was a stigma, in this market it’s understandable why they didn’t get an offer,” he said. “We’ve seen a few third-year law students who have not gotten an offer and they don’t seem too concerned.” Horne also said three or four times as many students have talked to him about working in internships, clerkships, nonprofits and government this year as did this time in 2000. Peter Mennell, professor and director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, sees a receptive market for Boalt graduates of 2002 in spite of the slumping economy. “A lot of firms, some of which have scaled back in force, they understand that in the long term they can’t not hire for a year,” Mennell said. “[Boalt's] students won’t get five offers, they’ll get two or three.” Still, some students are also looking outside the San Francisco Bay Area at firms that haven’t been hit as hard by the downturn. “I think people are more attracted to the practice area than the Bay Area,” a third-year student at Boalt said. Related chart

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