Steep Decline in Law School Applications

by Ed Whelan

The National Law Journal’s Karen Sloan reports that, with the sharp downturn in the legal market, the number of applicants seeking to begin law school in the fall of 2013 is on track to be between 53,000 and 54,000, down from 68,000 for 2012. That would be more than a 20% drop (and an even larger drop—38%, Sloan says—from the (unspecified, but evidently 85,000 to 87,000 or so) peak number from 2010). That would also be the lowest total in the last 30 years.

Sloan, paraphrasing a law professor, explains that law schools “basically have two options”: “They can reach deeper into their applicant pools and take students with lower academic credentials, risking their U.S. News and World Report ranking; or accept smaller classes by continuing to insist on higher LSAT scores and undergraduate grade-point averages.” My guess is that most schools will seek (or at least purport) to do mostly the latter but, driven by the desire to maintain revenues, will end up doing mostly the former.

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