Alternative Revenue Generation Practices for Law Schools

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Law schools have long utilized tuition and alumni donations as their primary means of revenue. However, with declining applications and enrollments, many law schools are faced with the challenge of generating additional income through non-traditional revenue streams. In this report, Hanover Research explores a range of revenue generation strategies used by law schools, as well as more broadly applicable practices utilized by four-year postsecondary institutions, including both entrepreneurial ventures and fundraising initiatives.

Report Contents

Section One discusses entrepreneurial approaches to creating new revenue streams, including international partnerships, joint degree partnerships, articulation agreements, medical-legal partnerships, corporate and business partnerships, and for-profit institutional partnerships. We additionally discuss continuing legal education and other non-credit legal education programs as a means of generating revenue, and finish with a brief overview of more common sources of non-tuition income, including facilities rentals.

Section Two discusses fundraising through corporate donations, private donations, and grants in order to assess the efforts of law schools in this arena. We examine corporate and private donors at select law schools and finish with a brief discussion of grant funding.

Key Findings

  • Many law schools have turned to institutional partnerships to develop innovative, revenue-generating programming. Some domestic law schools have partnered with international legal institutions, for instance, to offer nontraditional programming that incorporates time spent abroad, and which may attract both international and domestic students. U.S. law schools are also offering joint degrees – such as combined BA/JDs or joint JD/MBAs – in conjunction with other institutions in an effort to bolster enrollments and generate increased income.
  • Though less common, some law schools have also entered into corporate and business partnerships in order to generate revenue. New York Law School, for instance, has entered into an alliance with, in a joint venture to design and promote new legal instructional products for a broad audience.
  • Many law schools offer continuing legal education coursework at their campuses in order to generate revenue. Courses can be taught through the law school or merely located on the campus. Some law schools also offer alternative, not-for-credit legal education programs, including refresher courses intended for attorneys who have taken a break from practicing law, or who have never practiced law. Customized and open-enrollment executive education offerings have also become a feature on the legal education landscape, with institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, and Georgetown offering seminars and multi-day programs designed to provide instruction in management and leadership for mid- and senior-level lawyers. Harvard Law School’s open enrollment executive education programs currently range in cost from $12,500 to $15,000 per participant.
  • Universities and law schools alike have commonly generated additional revenue through the renting of facilities or other physical resources. Some law schools allow moot court rooms or other campus locations to be rented by law firms and other organizations for events and training. The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, for instance, allows the public to utilize its state-of-the-art trial courtroom for a fee, while Northwestern Law encourages the rental of various campus facilities, including its 700-seat auditorium, fully-outfitted conference rooms, and classrooms.
  • Donations from corporations, individuals, or grant-making bodies may be difficult to obtain given current economic considerations; however, law schools that can offer reciprocal benefits or leverage a niche specialty with an interest group may be more likely to benefit from external funding streams. Many law schools employ dedicated offices for alumni or corporate relations in order to identify the most promising options for securing donations. Some law schools label their donors as sponsors and grant their sponsors benefits, such as access to students, in order to incentivize giving.

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