Search the Lounge


« Taxing Eggs: Paul Stephan | Main | CFP: "Left" in the Dark? Postcolonial Conversations on Law, Neoliberalism and Queer-Feminist Futures »

February 26, 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


There will be as many applicants this year as there were matriculants in 2010.

I look forward to the day when we have approximately 30 fewer law schools, generating approximately 28,000 total graduates each year. That's the market clearing level. Note that it still exceeds BLS projections by about 8,000 graduates, but it will mean that the overwhelming majority of graduates will be able to make a living as lawyers with a few JD advantage jobs (the few that actually exist) to spare.


As others have pointed out, law schools were able to get another 31% of their applicants beyond this point last year because, when the news about the shrinking applicant pool came out, they hit the panic button and went into overdrive in the spring, and summer, recruiting students. Thus, the distribution of applications by month was skewed toward the end of the cycle. However, this year, haven't they been working in an atmosphere of panic the whole way through? Haven't the schools been using "heroic" measures to pump up application numbers throughout the year? Does this mean this year's distribution of applications will look more like those of years further in the past, with a smaller portion of applications in the spring and summer than 31%?

Alfred L. Brophy

Anonymous -- I don't know. It doesn't look to me as though the percentage decline in applicants changed that much at the end of last year's admissions cycle.

But perhaps you're correct and applicants will drop off even more at the end than they're dropping off now. That's entirely possible. Let me suggest this as an alternative prediction: at this time last year, we had 75% of the final application (not applicant) count. If we figure that we have 75% of the final applicant count for this year, then there will be in the neighborhood of 48,405 applicants this year.


We have enough numbers in to safely conclude that we're looking at a 1L class of 35-36,000 this year, the lowest since 1972-73. One difference from that year is that we have an increase of over 50 law schools to distribute those students.


If my math is correct: 36,000/200(approx. number of accredited schools)=180 students per school on average.
But, we know that Harvard will admit three times that number. And, many other T50 schools have classes that will far exceed that average of 180.
If we know the number of seats in the T50 or T100, we can derive the approximate number of new lLs remaining to fill the seats in the next tier of 100 or so schools.
For example, if the T100 fills 20,000 seats, then there will be, on average, only 100 students to fill the seats in each of the remaining 100 or so schools.
Does this compute?


I think the only wildcard in all this is have a number of students marginally interested in law school stopped applying? Are they applying earlier to jobs or other programs so that the number actually enrolling will be a greater percentage of applicants than in the past? I don't know, but tend to think not. They may apply to less schools, but they will still back-stop other plans. Just my opinion.


Anon 123
The indications have been that the pool is shrinking at the higher end of LSAT/GPA scores.
Accordingly, if a greater number of applicants enroll, it may be that will drag down the stats for lower rated schools even further.
USNWR, by compressing the tiers, has actually absolved in some ways the growing number of unrated schools from slipping ratings based on declining standards.
But, the profession will suffer if a growing number of persons with low GPAs from marginal undergraduate schools and failing LSAT scores enter law schools and are carried thru by the survival imperative on the part of the law school.
It is already fairly shocking to see the pitiful GPA/LSAT stats at many law schools. Essentially, substantial numbers of applicants with failing scores, by any measure, are gaining admission.
Bar admission remains an obstacle, but, in some states more than others.
We must question the failure of the law academy to address its inadequacies, its tendency to treat any critical analysis as grounds for counter attack rather than grounds for self-examination, and its overarching sense of self regard that seems to be used as a basis to justify any measures to preserve personal privilege.
These conditions are grounds for concern not only within the academy, but increasingly may be seen as grounds for action by the public at large, which deserves and needs protection from the product of these shortcomings.
These conditions may, finally, prompt the closing of the law school loan spigot.


I agree the enrollment group is slipping at the higher end of the LSAT pool. What I don't know is whether the applicant/enrollment percentage may change. Over the last 4 years, my calculations indicate the following

Fall 2010 enrollment/applicants 60%

Fall 2011 enrollment/applicants 62%

Fall 2012 enrollment/applicants 66%

Fall 2013 enrollment/ applicants 67%

Personally, I doubt that the Fall 2014 percentages will look much different than 2013.

New normal

This is unquestionably good news to everyone but the law schools. There was severe overproduction from 1985 to the present. I know, personally, multiple 2009 - 14 graduates from good schools (ie top 50) who excelled in school and have struggled to land any job in law. We're beyond the time where we can blame "the recession" and pretend that this ship will right itself. This is the new normal for law. Really, it's just a return to the old normal for law -- circa 1980. There will be few rich lawyers, there will be fewer lawyers per capita, they will earn salaries akin to accountants, and the law school bullshit will be toned down. (Nb, by "law school bullshit" I mean the ill founded but sincerely held belief that law schools serve some greater societal good beyond training the next generation of lawyers).

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad