What’s happening to the number of people taking the LSAT and applying to law school? Recent data shows that fewer people are writing the LSAT and fewer people are applying to law school. What does this mean for potential law students?
The Law School Admissions Council has released data indicating that the number of applicants to law school has been declining for the last few years and that the trend is looking worse and worse. Some commentators have described it as a “state of crisis” in legal education and indicated that law schools are laying off faculty as well as other staff.
The number of LSAT takers peaked in 2009 and has declined ever since. It’s down 45% since it’s peak. This is a huge reduction.
Overall, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for people that are interested in going to law school. There will be less competition for coveted spots in law school. Depending on how the legal market deals with it, this could also mean more jobs when these students graduate. Though it’s clear that the legal market has not been very strong since the recession.
Some reports indicate that law schools have actually started offering more financial aid to win students. That’s a great sign if you’re looking to get a break on the expensive law school tuition.
In terms of getting a good LSAT score, this won’t really affect much since it’s a standardized test. You’re compared relative to other test takers, so the overall number of people won’t affect your score. The advantage will be gained when you actually take the step of making an application and have less people to compete with. I suspect this could mean lower GPAs and LSAT scores required for acceptance to some of the schools. We won’t be able to tell whether that’s the case for a little while.
Longer term, this could mean some reductions in the number of law schools. I can see some Colleges deciding that it’s not worth running the program if they only have half the projected amount of students. This could really affect the applications process in the future.
If you’re looking to become a law professor, this could also be bad news. I don’t imagine there will be much money available for hiring new faculty.
But overall, if you’re a prospective law student, I don’t think it’s necessarily such bad news. It definitely adds some uncertainty to the mix, when you think about some of the schools that may be cutting back on staff. This could obviously affect the quality of your legal education. But if you know you want to go to law school, then this certainly lowers the competition.
What are your thoughts on this recent trend in law school applications? Leave a comment and let us know.