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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Organ: 2010, 2012, and Projected 2013 Law School Enrollment and Profile Data

The Legal Whiteboard:  Updated Unofficial Comparison of 2010 and 2012 Enrollment and Profile Data Among Law Schools, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

DECLINING ENROLLMENT – Between 2010 and 2012, 147 of the 188 law schools with available enrollment information (roughly 78%) had a decline in enrollment of at least 5%.  Of these 147 law schools down at least 5% in enrollment, nearly half -- 73 -- were down 20% or more. ...

DECLINING PROFILES -- Among the 173 law schools with complete profile information available for their fall 2012 entering first-year class, the average LSAT profile has declined over the last two years, from a 160.6/158.3/155.4 to 159.8/157.2/153.8.  The average GPA profile also has declined, from a 3.64/3.43/3.15 to 3.62/3.40/3.13.  In addition, the number of law schools with a median LSAT in the 140s has more than doubled from 9 to 19 between 2010 and 2012. 

DECLINING ENROLLMENT WITH DECLINING PROFILES – Perhaps most significantly, of the 73 law schools with declines in enrollment of 20% or more, 52 of those schools also saw a decline in their LSAT/GPA profiles between 2010 and 2012.  That means roughly 30% of law schools with available enrollment and profile information for 2012 (52/173) had declines in enrollment of 20% or more and saw their LSAT/GPA profile decline. Notably, seven of these 52 law schools were in the 2012 USNews top-50, 13 were ranked between 51-100, 13 were ranked between 101-145 and 19 were in the alphabetical listing of schools.

The Legal Whiteboard:  Projections for Law School Enrollments and Profiles for Fall 2013:  by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

 

2012 Estimate

2013 Projected

Decline

Applicants

68,000

58,700

13.7%

Admitted

52,000

46,700-48,700

6.3%-10.2%

Matriculants

42,500

38,300-39,900

6.1%-9.9%

Having taken hits on revenue over the last two years as a result of an overall 15% decline in first-year enrollment, with at least 73 law schools down more than 20% in enrollment, and facing a shrinking applicant pool again, many law schools are going to have to be focused largely on revenue, on simply trying to get as many students as possible in the door to minimize revenue shortfalls.  As a result, LSAT/GPA profiles are likely to take significant hits across the board. ... Present projections suggest that perhaps as few as 38,000-38,500 applicants will have LSAT scores of 150 or higher, some of whom will be inadmissible because of character and fitness issues or really low GPAs. ...

Fall 2013 is going to be another year in which many law schools see significant enrollment declines while most law schools see further declines in their LSAT and GPA profiles. This will be an admissions season in which “success” may be measured by not doing quite as poorly as others in terms of enrollment and profile.

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Comments

If law school is so unattractive, why are 90 percent of admitted students attending?

Posted by: michael livingston | Jun 3, 2013 2:35:04 AM

@Michael,

Here is a list of cognitive biases that prevent rational decision-making: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases Choose as many as you want; that's your answer.

Posted by: Unemployed_Northeastern | Jun 3, 2013 12:49:59 PM

"If law school is so unattractive, why are 90 percent of admitted students attending?"

Two comments to this.

1. According to the chart, for the year 2012 there were 52,000 admitted students and 42,500 matriculants (the "matriculant" numbers seem to be misplaced in the boxes). That is a rate of 82% of admitted students attending.

2. Probably a good third of the matriculants scored below 153 on the LSAT, and therefore are just too dumb to assess whether they are making a good decision. A large number of others are suffering from Special Snowflake Syndrome.

3. It's quite possible to objectivly determine that attending a certain law school is a bad decision without looking at whether students continue to attend. Maybe instead we should poll the class of 2010 across the board to see who thinks they still made the right choice?

Posted by: JM | Jun 3, 2013 2:03:40 PM

Make that three (3) commments.

Posted by: JM | Jun 3, 2013 2:04:15 PM

Supply, demand. Markets work.

Posted by: Conrad Baylor | Jun 3, 2013 4:01:21 PM

JM: Your conclusion that an LSAT number and intelligence have a direct correlation is an indication that you are not the most intelligent person yourself. Especially when you hit on 153 being the magic number that distinguishes the intelligent from the unintelligent. The LSAT has a rather low correlation between a range of numbers...in this case perhaps 151-155....and the ability to pass the minimum g.p.a. required to get through the first year of law school. It does not predict that students with higher LSATs will have higher GPAs, or that students with, say, 148 LSATs will flunk out. It just happens to be the best predictor, at least when combined with a realist UGPA, that we have for making admissions decisions, but that correlation is something like .40 out of .100. Over the years at my law school, many students with 153 LSATs went on to achieve great academic success, obtain outstanding law jobs, and become really great lawyers, and many with 168 LSAT scores or higher proved to be duds. We use them to hope that we are getting the students with the best chance of success but many lower tier schools that have given opportunities to prospects with low LSATs have performed a great service of giving students who truly want to be lawyers the opportunity to try, and have not just closed the door automatically because of the score on one exam taken on one day.

Posted by: Ralph Brill | Jun 4, 2013 7:36:45 PM