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This fall’s incoming class at Seton Hall University School of Law is 31 percent larger than usual, the result of the unpredictable art of estimating how many accepted students will enroll. The Newark, N.J., school accepted 1,086 students and 46 percent decided to attend, compared with 36 percent last year, says Dean Patrick Hobbs. When school started on Aug. 21, Seton Hall had 502 first-year students, 120 more than usual. To accommodate the unexpected company without increasing class sizes, the school divided the first-year entrants into six sections instead of the usual five, Hobbs says. To staff those additional classes, he brought on additional part-time professors and requested that some of the regular faculty professors put aside research projects in favor of teaching. The influx may be tied to a national trend attributable to a slumping economy. Law schools nationwide are reporting a 17.4 percent surge in applications, according to the Law School Admission Council, which administers the Law School Admission Test. Council spokesman Ed Haggerty notes that the recession of the early 1990s brought a similar spike in law school applications. “A lot of schools are experiencing a higher yield,” says Haggerty. “The U.S. economy is making school look like an excellent place to be.” Hobbs, though, prefers to think of the spike in enrollment as a testament to the law school’s growing reputation. Hobbs says that more and more New York law firms are recruiting at Seton Hall, which helps raise interest in the school. Applications from the Seton Hall class that just began increased 14 percent above last year, to 2,782, says Hobbs, and 50 percent of applicants this year were from outside New Jersey, compared with only 10 percent in 1990. In fact, the enrollment jump at Seton Hall was not experienced by New Jersey’s two other law schools. Rutgers Law School-Camden saw its yield rise to 44 percent, up from 41 percent last fall, says Dean Rayman Solomon. Anticipating that more students would enter law school because job prospects appeared dim, the school cut acceptances to 509, down from 592 last year, Solomon says. Its first-year enrollment is 228. The yield at Rutgers Law School-Newark has been gradually moving to 35 percent from 27 percent in recent years, says Director of Admissions Anita Walton. She adds that the school has cut back on admissions, and has 241 students in its first-year class, close to the totals of previous years. At Seton Hall, the larger enrollment has not prompted complaints about overcrowding in the library or other facilities, Hobbs says. He feels confident that the term is progressing smoothly because students were issued a key tag with his office, home and cellular telephone numbers, and he has not heard any complaints so far. The law school first suspected this year’s incoming class would be large in June, when new students had to pay their second deposits, he says. The law school began making arrangements for the extra section after conducting a telephone survey to determine how many students who paid the second deposit intended to enroll, Hobbs says. Though Hobbs is pleased the school is in demand, he says the unexpected spike in enrollment “is not something we want to repeat.” He says the school will reduce its number of admittees next year “to try to bring down those numbers.” Professor Michael Ambrosio agrees. “The only thing is, if it happens one time, you can deal with this. If it’s a pattern, you’re bulging at the seams,” he says.

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