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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Number of LSAT Test Takers in June Falls to 14-Year Low

Wall Street Journal, Number of LSAT Test Takers in June Falls to 14-Year Low:

Back in February, a slight dip in LSAT test-takers led Law Blog to wonder if the law-school crisis had turned a corner? The latest LSAT numbers suggest law schools are still digging into a hole.

The number of law school admission tests administered in June was down 9.1% compared to a year earlier, according to figures released by the Law School Admission Council on Thursday.

The 21,802 people who sat for the test last month is the lowest June total in 14 years, suggesting that law schools may still be having difficulty convincing college graduates on the value of a J.D. degree. For schools, it’s a step backward after the glint of hope they got in February when the number of law school admission tests administered inched up 1.1% over the February 2013 total.

LSAC

Matt Leichter, LSAT Tea-Leaf Reading: June 2014 Edition:

Typically, June has the highest proportion of first-time LSATs (~70 percent between 2010 and 2012). This June low bodes ill for the number of applicants next fall. ...

Chart 1

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/07/number-of-lsat-.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

Lost in much of this reporting is the irrelevance of the previous lows. The old lows were from a time when LSATs were averaged by schools. Now retakes don't hurt applicants--schools/USNews takes the highest scores and students have responded by retaking the test more often. Declines in first time takers this June was a whopping 14%. Maybe there is a rebound in the fall but it seems pretty clear that we'll have even fewer applicants this cycle than last.

Posted by: Nairb | Jul 12, 2014 9:39:37 AM

Want to eliminate law school applicants who are unlikely to succeed in the profession of law? I have a simple answer. Require most applicants to have at least two years of work experience since their last degree. That will knock out most applicants who have nothing better to do and will attract candidates who are more likely to know they want to practice law.

Posted by: Mark P. Yablon | Jul 12, 2014 11:57:28 PM

I graduated from law school in 1998 with five private student loans and one massive, consolidated federal loan. I paid off the private ones and am still today working on the federal one. And I am one of the lucky ones with a very good job, though it took awhile to find it.

Posted by: Vader | Jul 13, 2014 6:03:36 AM

So the economy has been stable for a couple years, yet all indications are that we are in for another applicant drop of between 5-10%.

What can we learn from this? The issue right now is not employment, and it is certainly not curriculum: it is DEBT!

Prospective students are scared of debt, and understandably so. Schools have been unsuccessful in diverting their attention from this factor (not from lack of effort though).

Most schools raised their tuition another 3-4% this year. That’s another $1,500 for so. What other declining industry can you point to that is so brazen as to annually raise prices when interest is already dwindling?

Remember that scene at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where the German blonde is falling into the crevice but just won’t stop reaching for the Holy Grail and ultimately falls to her death? All the while saying “I can reach it, I can reach it.” That is like law schools today. They just don’t want to give up their grasp on high tuition and high salaries while they wait for the so called “cycle” to turn. Can’t you hear them: “we can hold tuition, we’ll offer practice ready courses and internships, they’ll come back, this is all a cycle, we can hold . . . (*falls to death*).”

Posted by: JM | Jul 14, 2014 6:31:47 AM

@JM,

If Senator Lamar Alexander's plan for renewing the Higher Education Act carries the day, all current federal student lending programs will be replaced with a single federal loan that has a $35k or $40k undergrad cap and a $150k graduate cap. The question will be thus: will law schools, already weakened, lower tuition & costs to $150k over three years if the plan passes, or just hope that folk can still take out private loans from Access or Sallie?

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jul 14, 2014 7:40:59 AM

UN,

I don't see it making a difference. If students are stubborn enough to be willing to borrow, they'll borrow from private lenders. Fed Rates aren't even that good at the margins anymore.

Posted by: JM | Jul 14, 2014 8:49:24 AM

That's the mega-billion dollar question, isn't it? In the reality of today's job market and salaries, will students take on non-IBR/PSLF/PAYE/ICR-able private student loans and risk not being able to make that four-figure postgraduation payment? And will private lenders, in light of today's legal job market and salaries, even be willing to lend $$$ for someone to attend a not-Harvard school of law? I could see the private lending market for law schools operate in a manner similar to SoFi (fed loan refinancing startup) - if you don't have a job at MBB or a bulge bank, you won't get their business. Perhaps Sallie and Access will be realistic enough to know that if they lend to NYLS students instead of just NYU students, they won't get their money back...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jul 14, 2014 1:15:03 PM

Looks like the ship is finally starting to sink. It's criminal to lie about job statistics and salaries and sucker young 20-somethings into signing up for six figures of debt. The legal education industry is disgusting. Do law professors actually think they deserve their big paydays? So many lives have been destroyed, but thankfully it appears with the LSAT numbers, people are finally beginning to wise up and understand that law school is an incredibly risky undertaking that doesn't pay off for most.

Posted by: Can't Find a Job JD | Jul 17, 2014 11:55:50 AM