Friday, November 18, 2011
In June I wrote a post about the coming crunch for law schools,[and here] which asserted that law schools should anticipate a significant decline in the number of applicants in coming years. ... Three recent signs indicate that this will happen more quickly and to a greater degree than I suggested in the post.
The first indication is the disclosure that every student in the 2011 entering class of Illinois law school, including students admitted off the wait list, received tuition discounts. When everyone gets a scholarship, that constitutes a de facto tuition reduction, an indication that a law school is having trouble filling its seats at the list price. Given that Illinois is an excellent law school, it is likely that other schools are in the same position.
The second sign is more serious. The October 2011 LSAT, which is the highest volume test for people considering law school, had 16.9% fewer takers than the previous year. It was the lowest number of people to sit for the October exam in a decade. And it was the fifth straight LSAT administered to show a substantial decline from the same test the year before. ...
The third sign is perhaps the most alarming for law schools: the yield of applicants to test takers has been falling steadily in recent years. ... In 2010 and 2011, only around 63% of the people who took the test applied to law school. Law schools are caught in the grip of two separate, reinforcing declines that portend a severe contraction in the immediate future: fewer people are taking the LSAT test, and fewer people who take the test go on to apply to law school. A painful dose of economic discipline for law schools is just around the corner.