Orange County Business Journal

Whittier Law Won’t Enroll New Students

Deirdre Newman Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Whittier College’s board of trustees said today it won’t enroll a new class in the fall at its law school and “at the appropriate time, the program of legal education will be discontinued.”

Whittier College is in Whittier; Whittier Law School has been in Costa Mesa since 1997.

Currently enrolled students “will have an opportunity to complete their degree in a timely fashion.”

The statement on the law school’s website cited “challenges affecting our law program in recent years.”

The board in 2015 appointed a subcommittee to look for ways of keeping the law school open, including redirecting resources and improving student outcomes. It also talked with possible investors and potential buyers for the school.

The board said it believes it examined “every realistic option to continue a successful law program” with no “desired outcome.”

The law school issued its own statement in response, saying it was, “obviously devastated” by the board’s decision.

“For more than 50 years, we have provided a high quality education to students of diverse backgrounds and abilities—students who might not otherwise have been able to receive a legal education and who are now serving justice and enterprise around the world,” the law school said.

The response also cited the turmoil of recent years that has been, “extremely difficult for law schools across the country. Whittier Law School felt those challenges keenly and we took significant steps to address them.”

It concluded, “Sadly, our sponsoring institution opted to abandon the Law School rather than provide the time and resources needed to finish paving the path to ongoing viability and success. We believe this action was unwise, unwarranted, and unfounded.”

Whittier College completed a sale-leaseback of the law school’s Costa Mesa campus in February to an investor who appears to have ties to China.

The four-building campus—on Harbor Boulevard just north of the San Diego (I-405) Freeway and across the street from the Automobile Club of California’s headquarters— sold for $35 million.

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