The University of Maine School of Law eliminated three law library positions in a cost-cutting move, officials announced Monday.

School officials had earlier announced the elimination of the Maine Patent Program, a free offering that helps inventors protect their intellectual property. Two people operating the program, which had a budget of about $240,000 this fiscal year, were laid off and the program will end at the end of this school year.

Altogether, the cuts result in a savings of $566,254, about 7 percent of the law school’s projected $7.7 million budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The cuts at the Portland-based law school were part of the response to a $36 million funding gap in the University of Maine System caused by flat state funding, declining enrollment and tuition freezes.

In addition to the library and patent program cuts, three staff members had their hours cut and one vacant administrative position will not be filled, Dean Peter Pitegoff announced in an email Monday.

The law library will be reorganized with seven remaining staff members, without any changes to its hours or services, officials said. There are no program changes as a result of the cuts.

In the 2011 fiscal year, the Patent Program had the equivalent of 3.25 full-time staff members, one contractor and a budget of $376,571. In the current fiscal year, the staff was down to two people – a director and an administrative specialist – and a budget of $241,572.

The law school, which enrolls about 270 students a year, gets 12 percent of its budget from state allocation, and the rest is from student tuition and fees, according to Director of Advancement and External Affairs Vendean Vafiades.

Vafiades said the law school has doubled its scholarship fund to $950,000 a year. Tuition and fees, which have been frozen for three years, are $23,560 a year for in-state students and $34,630 for out-of-state students. Spokesman Trevor Maxwell said the tuition is the lowest among peer law schools in New England.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com