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Law schools put hiring freeze on faculty

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Amid falling first-year enrollment and shrinking class sizes, New Jersey's law schools have either reduced or frozen their faculty hiring efforts at a national recruitment conference held this week, though they utilized the event in past years to bolster their staff.

"We're looking at hiring three (professors) this time, but only because we're expecting three vacancies," said Ronald Chen, vice dean of the law school at Rutgers University's Newark campus. "Everything seems to be shrinking at law schools, and it has an indirect effect on faculty hires."

Chen said the number of full-time, daytime students entering Rutgers-Newark Law slid from 230 students in fall 2010 to 177 students in fall 2012. Similar drop offs occurred at Seton Hall Law School, which matriculated 249 students in fall 2010 and welcomed 202 students this fall, and Rutgers-Camden Law, where enrollment steeply fell from 251 students in fall 2010 to 117 students in fall 2012 amid talks of a merger with Rowan University.

Claudette L. St. Romain, Seton Hall Law associate dean of academic affairs, said the school hired 10 law professors between the past two annual Association of American Law Schools Faculty Recruitment conferences, mostly to fill slots left in the wakes of retiring faculty members. But St. Romain said the school did not send recruiters to this year's conference — which began Oct. 11 and will run through Oct. 13 in Washington, D.C. — and it did not hire any professors at the start of the year.

While a Rutgers-Camden Law spokesman said the school welcomed four assistant professors this fall, he said no recruiters were sent to the conference this week, either.

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