LSAC has now released data about the number of people who sat for the October LSAT. The total number of takers was down 10.9% from October 2012. The number of first time takers was down roughly 13% from last October.
When you pair this data with attendance levels at recent LSAC Law School Forums (law school fairs, essentially) in Boston (down 47% from last year), Houston (down 15.4% from last year) , Miami (down 16.3%), and New York (down 18%), law school admissions teams and law school deans are staring down some grim news. (One contrary data point: the summer LSAC Law School Forum in D.C. showed a decent uptick in attendance.)
We don't yet know the total slide in law school matriculants for this year but many people are guessing that there are roughly 40,000 1L's at ABA schools this fall. The possibilityof yet another 10% dip suggests that most schools will have to make significant concessions in student quality, revenue, or both. What remains to be seen is how many schools will be able to gain additional funding - or radically restructure, how many will simply accept a nosedive in admissions predictors, and how many will simply conclude that the whole project is no longer worth the candle.
Bill Henderson predicted widespread law school layoffs this fall. While I hear rumblings of various sorts around the country - increased teaching loads, compensation cuts, buyouts (of varying levels of voluntariness), and a few layoffs - as best as I can tell, the hammer has not really fallen. Take another 4000 tuitions out of the system however - call that $300 million dollars over three years (figuring an average tuition of $25/K per disappearing student) - and I imagine we'll be revisiting this whole issue again. If that $300 million was spread across 200 law schools, that would still be a $1.5 million haircut . But considering that the $300 million would likely be spread unevenly as more and more universities refuse further law school contraction, it's easy to imagine that the real costs to marginal schools might exceed $6 million over three years. There are only so many subscriptions that a library can cancel.