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March 25, 2014


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So its pretty clear that total applicants will clock in around 52,000. Nice job by the schools beating the bushes for late apps.

The quality of the applicants will be huge though. If there is a steep decline in applicants with LSAT scores over 160, but a stabilization in applicants in the 145-155 range, then this cycle will do a lot of damage to the non-elite Top 50 schools.


Schools must be nervous about the 308,000 application statistic. Word is out re: scholarships and declining standards. I'd imagine that a lot of the 44,000 applicants to date have been applying to top schools, scholly schools, and one or two safety schools. No one wants to pay retail this year.

I suspect you'll see huge declines at the low end of the spectrum (e.g., a 20 percent drop at unranked schools).


Impressive haul. It will be interesting to see is what happens if/when the job market starts to show signs of robust growth.

In the two recession preceding the Great Recession we saw a surge in applications when the job market was weak and a fall in applications as the job market got going again. Since job market has been weak for 5+ years, we've seen both a surge in applications and fall in applications.

If the job market heats up again will more college graduates apply to law school because they see brighter times on the horizon? Or do they wade into the job market because they don't want to take themselves out of a strong job market for three whole years?


I would also guess that the "full-pay" students outside of the T14 is dropping even more dramatically. Yes, I agree that many students are applying to top schools and a safety, but if the safety doesn't come across with good financial aid, that student will not be there.


I'll add that it is just stupifying that people continue to enroll in schools like George Mason, William and Mary, Brooklyn, Pepperdine, etc.

Assuming no significant scholarship, what is the thought process? Anyone want to guess?

*I understand that people who enroll in lower ranked schools just don't have a clue.

Steven Freedman (KU Law)

@LM - No need to wonder if applicants with strong LSAT scores are increasing or decreasing. LSAC publishes the data at the same time it releases overall numbers. Here's the latest as of March 21:

< 140 2,850 -11.5%
140–144 4,003 -7.7%
145–149 6,258 -12.4%
150–154 8,618 -10.5%
155–159 8,717 -11.0%
160–164 6,663 -10.9%
165–169 4,540 -6.5%
170–174 2,125 5.8%
175–180 573 7.1%

Hope this helps.


Thanks, Professor Freedman. The increase in the >170 LSATs has got to be a positive sign for the lower T-14 schools that have had to give up a point or two in median LSAT scores these last couple of years. On the other hand, it's precisely these high LSAT scorers that are most likely to be informed consumers about the state of law school admissions and will demand attractive scholarship packages as a condition of attending law school.


Thanks, Professor Freedman. That's great info!

My takeaways are the following:

1. The largest declines are clustered in the lowest scores. This is good news for the Country. The damage here will target low-ranked diploma mill schools (New England, Cooley), which rely almost exclusively on the most unqualified candidates. Not a bad thing in my opinion.

2. There is an uptick in the highest scores. Perhaps just a return to the norm? Anyway, good news for schools that want to hang around the T5.

3. Slightly bigger than average declines right throughout the middle. Middle of the pack T100 schools get hit hard by this because the T30 will absorb everyone above 164. The only way to get them is with big $. The middle of the pack will have to fight each other with discounts for average candidates now.


Of the 44,400 applicants to date, almost 7,000 have scores of 144 or below? In years past, these students would not get into law school.


Doing some quick math, and using some numbers from the last thread.
Assume 52,000 applicants.
30% of the LSAT takers to date scored over 160.
Assume that ratio holds.
52,000 * 30% = 15,600 applicants with LSATs over 160.
Assume 36,400 enroll (52,000 * 70%, a very conservative estimate).
Assume the T100 enroll 21,000 (according to last thread, this number enrolled in the T100 last year).
If the T100 accepts and enrolls the entire population of students with LSAT scores over 160, there will be still about 5,500 seats to be filled in the T100 by students with LSAT scores below 160 (26% of the total number of seats).
That would leave about 15,400 enrollees to fill the entering classes in the next 100 law schools, all of whom with LSAT scores less than 160.
Leaving aside the obviously flawed nature of any assumptions and predictions, is this math correct?


The number of applicants who scored over 160 may not be correct. I'll defer to the correct number, of course, but 20% would probably be more accurate?
Does this simply increase the number of applicants likely to be accepted in the T100 with LSAT scores below 160?


Worth a look:
"In 2010, there were 74 law schools with a median LSAT of 160; in 2013, that number has fallen to 56. .... in 2010, there were only 9 schools with a median LSAT of less than 150 and only one with a median LSAT of 145. In 2013, the number of law schools with a median LSAT of less than 150 has more than tripled to 32, while the number of law schools with a median LSAT of 145 or less now numbers 9 (with the low now being a 143)."

Worth a look.


Anon: Bar exam pass stats will tell the tale in a few years. Surprised that I am surprised that law schools would be so willing to forsake their future ranking/reputation for the present bucks, let alone bring in so many people who will never practice law for a variety of reasons.


A score of 145 on the LSAT means that 75% or so of LSAT takers scored better on the test.
How can a law school purport to be upholding any sort of "standard" by accepting students at this level of predicted success in law school, on the bar, and in practice?
More to the point, how can federal loans be approved for students under these circumstances?
Last year, about 16% of US law schools admitted students with a median LSAT of less than 150; about 5% admitted students with a median LSAT of 145 or less.
Correlating this information with the numbers this year, and the other relevant factors (placement in JD required employment, etc.) one must ask: When will action be taken?


This chart is helpful re: LSAT percentiles.
At 160, one is at about the 80th percentile
At 150, one is at about the 44th percentile
At 140, one is at about the 14th percentile
In other words, a student at the median at one ABA accredited law school last year - 143 - scored worse on the LSAT than about 80% of all other takers.
Again, is it necessary to maintain ANY standards?
Should a sense of responsibility within the academy find some sort of concrete expression?


What we don't know is of the > 170 group, how many of those are also taking MCATs, GMATs, etc, Time will tell. My guess is that the student group at the 15-100 schools includes a hodge podge, for the most part of scholarship kids and kids whose parents can pay without blinking an eye.

Earvin Larry Jordan

This upcoming year we will probably see the first of the law school closing, from the non-ranked schools who simply won't have enough warm bodies to the top tier schools who don't want to lower their standards to fill seats.

Earvin Larry Jordan

I meant closings. Sorry for typo.


It is important to remember that while the LSAT is somewhat predictive of law school and bar success, it is by no means determinative. LSAC will tell you that a *combination* of LSAT and bar passage is somewhat, but not totally, predictive of first year grades. But it is performance in law school that is the real predictor of who will pass the bar: Even at schools with terrible LSAT medians, the vast majority of those students pass their local state bar, and a great majority do that the first time (there are exceptions in "hard" bar states like CA and NY where a few schools come close to that 50% mark each year). LSAC itself says that any individual score should be considered in a range of +/- 3 points. A drop of even a few points in LSAT median will not change bar passage rates significantly, and it would be inaccurate to say that those people with low LSATs will never pass the bar or practice.

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