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April 28, 2015


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What is more disturbing to me, if I am reading the link correctly, is the distribution of LSAT scores. I see large reductions in the higher LSAT scorers, and increase in applications in lower scorers. This will exacerbate the reduction in total applications.

Orin Kerr

It's interesting to watch the gradual shrinking of the % drop in applicants, from around a 9% drop in the early F15 reports to a 2.5% drop now.

(No broad commentary about law schools or the value of a law degree intended by this message.)


For each of the last few years, a growing percentage of applicants apply late in the season. I have no idea why this should be. Possibly related to the decline in high LSAT score appliers who are more likely to apply early in the season? Anyone here have a suggestion as to why this is occurring?


Last year, there were 55,700 ABA applicants, with 43,500 admitted.

If we accept there will be 52,863 applicants this year, we can expect 41,233 admitted (if my math is correct).

Of the 41K, how many will the T100 admit? Guessing that the T100 generally will admit the higher scorers on the LSAT, can we predict the median LSAT score for the lower T100?



The actual number of full- and part-time students "who started classes in 2014" according to the NYT, was 37,924.

Applying that formula, we can expect 35,872 to start this year.

Guessing the T100 will admit about 20,000, that leaves about 16K for the lower 100.

Again, what will be the LSAT profile of those 16K?



I think it is relatively obvious why the decline starts off strong and ends up much smaller. The higher LSAT scorers apply early in the cycle, typically between September and January. Applicants with these scores (160+) are down approximately 8%. Applicants with the lowest scores (<150) likely apply later in the cycle, and these applicants have actually increased. My guess is that the average LSAT score for the applicants past March 1 is something like 145. I've said it before other places, but the actual applicant decline for schools that care about maintaining good student quality is around 7% this year.

Mike Spivey

As JM mentions, one reason for this late cycle increase in applications is that the high performing test-takers often apply early, and the reverse is true on the lower end of performance where you see more takers at the later dates. But this is a constant that has not changed much through the years. I believe there are two other possible contributing factors, at least that I have considered thinking about this phenomena over the last few cycles.

1. The growing awareness that "retaking" the LSAT can (almost) only offer positive or value neutral outcomes. Years ago the ABA collected all LSAT scores, but now they only collect the high from each test-taker. Ever so slowly, over time, prospective students have accepted the "high score is all the matters" philosophy even though there are artifacts of the previous "all scores matter" dictum still misplaced but alive. Thus prospective students will take multiple times before applying.

2. Awareness made through the media, faculty, these wonderful blog articles by Al, etc. about each down cycle has applicants, who had initially planned on waiting until the next cycle, more ready to jump on a late application in the current application period. There is also growing data that in down cycles a late application is not nearly as harmful to ones chances of admission.

Just my 2 cents. Thanks for the interesting discussion!

confused by your post

Law schools' admissions departments have adapted to change in the "market" for applicants. They spend much more time, money and effort on attracting students now. Schools are putting a lot more resources into the process. Schools are marketing much later into the cycle now. In the good old days, that was not necessary. Today, admissions departments should generally be commended for their ability to attract students so successfully given the environment.


CBYP, I've read some places that law schools have taken to accepting students who did not even apply! Talk about aggressive marketing!


JM, I am not certain if any in the top 100 accept students without applying, but I think if student gives law schools access to LSAT and LSAC, they send letter saying "highly probable" we would accept you, and we will waive fee for application.


Law schools survive to make money, not to teach students how to actually practice law or become lawyers. Until that changes, the decline will continue.


Anon123: What you describe is, for all intents and purposes, accepting students who have not applied. My former school actually did a phone-a-thon once cold calling people with high LSAT/GPAs and even promising scholarships if they applied! This was long before the current "crisis."

confused by your post

Well it looks like the pool of applicants may have one less school to apply to in a couple of years. ABA just recommended against accreditation for Indiana Tech. We'll see if the ABA rolls over next year and accredits them rather than face an inevitable lawsuit from the school. In Indiana, you cannot take the bar exam if your school is not ABA accredited. If I were an "on the ball" Indiana Tech student, I'd now start the process of trying to transfer to another school.


" If I were an "on the ball" Indiana Tech student, I'd now start the process of trying to transfer to another school. "

I've heard of some for-profit schools delaying the transfer paperwork (e.g., transcripts). I wouldn't bet any money which I could not afford to lose that transferring from there will be hard.

Can people post bios of the professors at that school, so that we can mock them, and tell them to 'network' more, or to use the 'versatility' of their JD's?

Al Brophy

Maybe we should stop with the mocking of everyone and the comparisons to the Nazis, Hitler, slavery, Jim Crow, etc., which have the effect (even if not the design) of inflaming. Let's just get back to working to improve law schools and legal education.

Enrique Guerra-Pujol

It keeps getting worse -- one law school in Florida (Barry Law School) had a 50% pass rate on the bar this past spring -- down from a 62% pas rate last summer

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