TaxProf Blog

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

Friday, December 15, 2017

WSJ: Law School Is Hot Again

Wall Street Journal, Law School Is Hot Again as Politics Piques Interest:

It’s cool to go to law school again.

After years of plummeting enrollment and hand-wringing over the value of a law degree, interest in law school is starting to rebound. The number of people applying to law school for next fall is up nearly 12% compared with the same period a year earlier, and around 14% more applications have been submitted, according to the Law School Admission Council.

That marks the first significant uptick since before the last economic downturn. Law school deans and prelaw advisers offer several theories for the rise: a political climate that has thrust legal issues into the spotlight, the recovery of the broader economy and legal job market, and law schools continuing to offer discounts to lure top performers.

“Everybody’s starting to sense this is turning,” said Gregory Shaffer, prelaw advising coordinator at the University of Maryland.

As of early December, 17,962 applicants had sent in 104,260 applications, LSAC data shows. Twenty-three law schools reported application increases of 40% or more.

The number of applicants for fall 2018 could reach 61,000 to 63,000, according to an early projection from Jerome Organ, a law professor at Minnesota’s University of St. Thomas who analyzes the law school market. That would be the highest figure in five years—though still far below prerecession highs. ...

The value proposition of going to law school has improved as employment rates rise and scholarship money flows.

The market for entry-level legal jobs grew stronger for the third year in a row with the class of 2016, which had an 87.5% employment rate 10 months after graduation, according to the National Association for Law Placement, which tracks law school outcomes. The employment rate has ticked higher as the number of graduates has fallen. ...

Law school is still expensive, with tuition often costing upward of $45,000 a year. But schools have doled out more scholarships in recent years to lure applicants. The proportion of law school enrollees receiving grants rose from 49.9% in 2011 to 67% in 2015, according to an analysis from Pepperdine University School of Law professor Derek Muller. The percentage receiving grants covering at least half of their tuition rose in the same period from 16% to 27.4%.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage of the "Trump Bump":

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