Date of Award



© 2021 Mary E. Wilson

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Collay

Second Advisor

Brianna Parsons

Third Advisor

William D. Matthews


The Great Recession of 2008 brought great upheaval to many aspects of the American economy. At first law schools saw an increase in applications and enrollment as individuals sought an education that would lead to employment. Within a few years, however, the job market for new lawyers deteriorated. By 2010-2011, the number of applications to law schools plummeted, as did the enrollment numbers. Since tuition is the life blood of law schools, the field of legal education was faced with an unprecedented crisis. This researcher collected and reviewed publicly available data to examine the changes that occurred in law schools following the economic downturn. Interviews with faculty who had experienced the institutional changes portrayed the personal or internal changes that occurred as a result.

Findings suggest that higher-ranked (Tier 1 and Tier 2) schools generally had different outcomes than lower-ranked (Tier 3 and Tier 4) schools following the enrollment crisis. The first section addressed structural changes, the second section addressed programmatic changes, and the third section reported on faculty in the Tier 3 and Tier 4 schools expressed feelings of grief and loss regarding their experiences during this period of crisis.

The future loss of accreditation that may occur in some law schools will be a source of additional study of institutional and personal grief and loss issues that schools and faculty members experience as a result of that loss.


Ed.D. Dissertation

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