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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, June 12, 2017

Proportion Of Law School Applicants With LSATs > 160 Is Down 35% Since 2010; < 150 Is Up 146%

Although the number of LSAT test-takers increased 3.3% in the Fall 2017 admissions season, the LSAC has announced that the number of law school applicants decreased 0.5%. The applicant decline continues to be most pronounced in the highest LSAT score bands:

LSAT Scores


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More data showing that the smarter, better-connected students are seeking careers other than in the law these days. It never ceases to amaze me that the Department of Education is still providing loans for law students, no questions or qualifications asked.

Posted by: Old Ruster | Jun 12, 2017 7:02:32 AM

The smart money leaves first.

Posted by: Jim W | Jun 12, 2017 9:49:16 AM

It is coming out that the jobs top law schools are selling are not career jobs by a long shot. No one knows what happens next. It is really about extreme lawyer overproduction. Slimming down Harvard, Columbia, NYU and Georgetown Law to under 200 a class and closing the bottom law schools so there are under 20,000 a class would eventually bring supply demand balance to the profession. The next step is forcing law schools to halve the cost of a JD.

Posted by: Dumbfounded that the ABA is still in the accreditation business | Jun 12, 2017 6:07:32 PM

The obvious solution is to make the test easier.

Posted by: mike livingston | Jun 13, 2017 4:17:39 AM

What's interesting is that these supposedly "dumb" lawyers are making more money than ever before, and for less work. Billable hours down, hourly billable rates up, big firms raised starting base salary to $180K.

Maybe the folks going to work for stock options and minimum wage at "Turn on the Air Conditioning without leaving the" are the dumb ones.

Posted by: Market | Jun 13, 2017 9:26:47 AM

Hmmm... sounds like it is high time for LSAC to fund more pro-law school studies - but also probably some studies showing that the GRE is a terrible test and therefore law schools shouldn't accept it even if it increases their applications. Such a tricky needle to thread...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 13, 2017 1:38:47 PM

Here goes market/data/econ again with his/her cherry-picked, misleading factoids.

1) Not every large law firm starts at $180k, particularly once we get outside NYC.

2) Obviously only a teeny percentage of graduates lands such a job, and where one attends law school is the determinative factor.

3) That $180k is a smaller amount in real dollars than what law school graduates made in 2007. $160k in 2007 is worth $190k today. And back then, leading law schools charged $40k in annual tuition, not >$60k.

4) Per NALP. the median starting salary for law school graduates in 2008 was $72k, or $80k in today's dollars. For the most recent year data is available (Co2015), that figure is down to $63k.

5) There is a nontrivial chance that kids who score above a 160 on the LSAT can find out 1) through 4) on their own and choose safer, less debt-fueled paths, and ignore the patter by self-interested parties about mythical ROIs based on people who graduated back in the age when Sheperdizing still required walking into the stacks.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 13, 2017 4:07:47 PM

Ditto the comment by Dumbfounded: "It is really about extreme lawyer overproduction. Slimming down Harvard, Columbia, NYU and Georgetown Law to under 200 a class and closing the bottom law schools so there are under 20,000 a class would eventually bring supply demand balance to the profession."

Dean Caron, I realize that I am tilting at windmills here, but where are you with your fellow Dean's in working to bring the supply/demand curve into balance? trying to attract more young people to the profession only serves to guarantee the sinecures of law faculty and staff. for the sake of our profession, the law Deans across the nation must slash enrollments, and the ABA needs to cut of the low performing schools. then, you can once again set your admissions criteria at a high level.

I have tried to bring up this topic at various local and state Bar meeting in my jurisdiction. I can't get any support for this idea of cutting the enrollments even more significantly. I was told that there would be a disparate impact on women and minorities, therefore my motivations must be biased.

I read that there is another engineer in India working on a program to use Artificial Intelligence to handle more legal work. I see further pressure on the supply side as the demand seeks answers from non-traditional legal service providers.

May I be a speaker at the next annual convention of Law Deans? I guarantee it will be a barn-burner.

Posted by: Old White Man | Jun 15, 2017 5:00:38 AM

The interesting data would be to have the total number of people scoring at each bracket to know what is the proportion of people appyng.

175 is 1 in 200. Means 500. So 80% apply.
170-175 is 1 in 50. Means 2000. 100% apply
165-170 is 1 in 15. Means 6 500. 65% apply
160-165 is 1 in 12. Means 8 500. 75% apply.
145-160 is 7 in 10. Means 70 000. 40% apply
Less than 145 is 1 in 4. Means 25 000. 40% apply

That means that
--> The application rate for the bottom 80%, most people under 160, is 40% and doesn't change wether your at the top or the bottom.
--> For the top quintile, you have to categories, depending were you fit on your corresponding group :
--> It means 170-175 and 160-165 are the most interested people. Because they are on the bottom half of H-Y-S-C-NY and top 9 Law school. People above 175 and in the 165-170 doesn't apply so much, because there are in the top bracket of each two categories.
--> So choices are not rational. There are social choices based on distinction. Diploma is only a prestige game.

Posted by: Nono | Jun 23, 2017 8:01:49 AM

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