The newest LSAC volume summary is out and there is good news for those working in law school admissions offices: applications are up. Of course, they're not actually up compared to last year. Total numbers are still down, and dramatically. But they're down by a lower margin that they were a few weeks ago. Back on January 10, we reported that applicants were down 22.1% compared to last year. Based on that number, LSAC was projecting something around 52,000 total applicants this year. Four months later, and the news is a bit different. Now, as of the May 17, 2013 report, the total number of applicants is down 13.4% and the projected total number of applicants is looking like it'll be around 58,700. That's a big dip from the 68,000 last year...but a dip of 10,000 is signficantly different than a dip of 16,500.
I am certain that many deans and admssions directors are asking if we've hit a bottom. I think it is far, far too early to tell. But I also think that the intensity of negative coverage may be triggering a burst of applications among those who realize that there may never be a better year to apply to law school, from the point of view of maximizing the power of one's given LSAT score as well as minimizing actual tuition costs.
Because let's face it: people willing to attend law school in select cities (such as, for example, Philadelphia) can get quite a bargain. A student with a 159 LSAT and decent grades can choose among multiple Philadelphia law schools and pay very, very low tuition. Prefer to pay full freight? Given that the top schools seem likely to maintain class size even in the face of an overall credential drop, a 168 LSAT is likely to take you a long way this year.
That doesn't mean law school is the right choice for any particular person. But for people who want to become lawyers no matter what, the math right now is starting to look awfully appealing. Or at least that's what the numbers suggest.
Update: I have closed comments as suggested by some commentators. I trust that most of our readers were and are, like me, enjoying a holiday weekend. I will reflect on this post, and its comments, over the next few days.