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January 30, 2013


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Brian Tamanaha

A chart in Failing Law Schools going back to 1990 (p. 161) shows that the number of law school applicants has cycled up and down twice in the past two decades (and again in the 1980s, though not in the chart). An earlier peak of 100,000 applicants was reached in 1991, which then declined until it bottomed out in the late 1900s, then began to rise again until the 2004 peak. This rise and fall correlates with the unemployment rate--as the unemployment rate rises, law school applicants increase, and vice versa.

The huge leap in unemployment that marked the great recession, however, produced only a small bump in the number of applicants (2009 and 2010), followed by a renewed decline as the economy improved. What we cannot know is whether this pattern will continue. But it does suggest that the number of applicants will remain suppressed if the general unemployment rate goes down.

tony smith

Thanks for posting the longterm data. I have been wanting to look at this. Why haven't others talked about it: 1. I was unable to pull the longterm data when I tried yesterday; 2. People do not believe in context.

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