TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Top Students Increasingly Are Not Interested In Law School

Correction:  This post originally contained inaccurate data.  I have deleted the inaccurate data and included corrected charts from my later post, The Quantity And Quality Of Law School Applicants.

Following up on my previous posts (here and here):

Indiana Lawyer, Top Students Still Not Interested in a JD:

A few months before law schools around the country begin a new academic year, the number of people applying for admission has slipped, with the greatest decline coming from applicants posting the highest LSAT scores.

The number of applications to law schools has reached 344,358 as of June 9, according to the Law School Admissions Council. That represents a 1.4 percent increase over the applications submitted in 2016 but the number of applicants for the 2017-2018 school year is 53,101, a 0.5 percent decline from last year.

Paul Caron, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law and author of the Tax Prof Blog, crunched the data and found the top performers are turning away from legal education. ...

Chart 1

Chart 2

Caron told the ABA Journal, “The story could be that better credentialed college graduates are turning away from going to law school because they feel they have other opportunities that they feel are more attractive. For several years, legal education has taken a pounding. It’s not providing the kinds of opportunities it provided to students in the past.”

Legal Education | Permalink


It is just a matter of time before the eternal pendulum swings back again and it will be the best schools that benefit first.

Posted by: len fuld | Jun 23, 2017 7:26:19 AM

These percentages are even more stark when converted into raw numbers. In 2010, just under 36,000 people with LSAT scores of 160+ applied for fall admission. This year, that number is going to be 14,000. This is a 61% decline (law school applications as a whole are down 39% over that time).

Posted by: Paul Campos | Jun 23, 2017 2:45:03 PM

Perhaps professors who think that their students are making a mistake by enrolling in law school--and by extension, their classes--are not well suited to law teaching.

If you're not proud of what you do for a living, do something else. It's hard to imagine you could make less money doing something else than you do teaching at an obscure state school.

Posted by: Perhaps | Jun 25, 2017 6:49:21 PM

I truly fear a wholesale dumbing down of the legal profession exacerbated by increased GRE admissions along with states capitulating to law school $takeholders' calls to make bar exam passing scores easier.

Posted by: Anon Tax Lawyer | Jun 25, 2017 10:25:06 PM

@Perhaps (data/math/all the other nyms),

Your troll game is weakening, but your Freudian projection is strong.

@Anon Tax Lawyer,

For what it is worth, at the moment Interpretation 503-3 to ABA Standard 503 requires that any student admitted with an alternate admissions test (i.e. the GRE) must have scored at the 85th percentile or higher on that test AND be ranked in the top 10% of their undergraduate class or have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher through six semesters of college work. It's far more stringent than the law schools sporting median LSAT scores below 145 and 25th percentile scores below 140.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 26, 2017 9:34:14 AM

Donald Trump’s tweets are less narcissistic and more logical than the Perhaps/Market/Data troll. A week ago, the troll expressed disdain for “mediocre” law schools – and by extension the students. They bellyached that elite law professors sacrificed prestigious careers in New York, DC, and San Francisco in order to work for “mediocre” law schools in “fly over.” Perhaps claimed that if “mediocre” law schools want to attract elite professors with expertise in subjects like securities law, then the schools must not burden the so called elite professors with actual teaching. They need time to research and troll blogs with inane comments so they can eventually take a job at prestigious schools like Columbia. After complaining about having to teach at a “mediocre” law school, the troll’s latest Trumpian gem is an attack on Campos for not being proud of teaching law.

Perhaps professors who are entitled, have a grandiose sense of themselves, and cannot be burdened with teaching - probably due to a cluster B personality disorder - are not well suited to law teaching.

Posted by: anon JD/MD | Jun 26, 2017 7:34:33 PM

I gather "Perhaps" stole your lunch money.

Posted by: Art Deco | Jun 27, 2017 11:22:59 AM