Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Record Number of LSAT Test-Takers

Following up on last week's posts, Law School Is a Bad Investment and "Going to Law School Is Like Starting to Smoke":  a new blog notes Big Law, We Have a Problem:

The numbers are out, and they are huge. On September 26th, more students took the LSAT than have ever taken a single administration of the LSAT in the history of the exam.



Legal Education | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Record Number of LSAT Test-Takers:


The last few comments about the lack of correlation between the number tested and the number who become [and remain] lawyers are appropriate observations. For those who'd rather be in China or India - - Delta's ready when you are!

Posted by: OldLawyer | Nov 19, 2009 8:05:52 AM

Most of this gain was caused not by an upsurge in interest in Law School but by policy changes. First, the ABA recently changed their reporting rules so that law schools report high LSAT score for each applicant instead of average LSAT score. In effect, taking the test multiple times used to be risky because it could lower your score. Now, there's little disadvantage to taking the test again. Repeat test takers have surged over the past 2 years due to this change.
Also, the makers of the LSAT used to allow test takers to change from one test date to another up to the day of the test with only a minor penalty. In the week approaching the test over 10% of registered test takers would elect to take the test a different day. As of June 2009 the deadline for changing test dates changed to three weeks before the test. This means those 105+ people who used to switch test dates at the last minute now have to show up for the test or get an "absentee" marking on their test file and have to pay full price to register for another test date.
Interest in law school is strong and applications are up over 15% so far this year after being up slightly last year but the record number of test takers is more due to policy changes than increased interest in law school.

Posted by: Troyus | Nov 18, 2009 2:26:11 PM

This is not at all surprising when the unemployment rate increases, the logical economic choice is to reinvest in one's education until job prospects improve.

Posted by: David | Nov 18, 2009 11:30:48 AM

I am one of the takers of the Sept 09 LSAT. I waited until 2 days before deadline to register, and had no problem finding an administration center. I am registered to take it in December, and waited (again) until 2 days before deadline. Even easier finding an administration center.

All the posters commenting on how this will increase lawyers, eventual bad effects, etc, are assuming that the people taking the LSAT achieved the score they wanted to (i.e., are admissible to the law school of their choice) and will eventually graduate with a JD. Those are two big assumptions.

Posted by: future JD | Nov 18, 2009 6:25:50 AM

My son was one of the 60,000 who took this administration of the LSAT. He registered about 3 days before the deadline and ended up having to register at a test center over 100 miles away even though there were about 10 test centers that were closer.

One caveat about the numbers. The June 2009 test had a really difficult logical reasoning section (aka 'the mauve dinosaur') which led to disappointing scores for many and caused an abnormally high number of retakes in September.

Posted by: vamoose | Nov 17, 2009 9:22:45 PM

Agreed, Jay. Especially considering that for many new attorneys, the first year ends up being exactly that, but with a license in hand (though there are plenty of new attorneys who are simply thrown into the fray, free to give bad legal advice without sufficient oversight).

Posted by: TS | Nov 17, 2009 3:18:01 PM

The Internet Economy is over, welcome to the Government Economy, where valuable workers are no longer Info Tech entrepreneurs, but rather lawyers engaged in backroom deliberations to win/succeed, or to get favors from Big Brother. I've spent last decade living in a partially deregulated industry and am always amazed at the tendency for the industry to want to return to the backrooms where good lawyers rather than good products make the difference. Lawyers have their place, but I'd prefer the marketplace decide out in the open, rather than in the backrooms of Big Government.

Posted by: George | Nov 17, 2009 3:14:34 PM

...and law school should be 4 years, not three and certainly not two. We're producing brilliant theoretical abstract thinkers with little clinical experience. Law school should have a 4th year of supervised clinical practice in that candidate's chosen field.

Posted by: Jay | Nov 17, 2009 2:41:45 PM

Lawyers are like abortions. If you don't like them, don't get one. Do your own will. Do your own divorce. Do your own real estate transfers. Try to collect workers comp on your own. Sue the drunk guy who rear-ended you all by yourself. Try to prosecute the guy who robbed you on you own. Please. I will make MUCH more money fixing your horrible mess than if you pay me to do it correctly the first time.

Posted by: Jay | Nov 17, 2009 2:38:23 PM

I'm a physician who's thinking about either law school or dental school. The plus for dental is that most of the "hard" stuff I've already had in a different form, so I should have a leg up on the competition. Law school is a year shorter. Either is a better option than the complete loss of autonomy and government-mandated 20% pay cuts. If this really starts to stink, I'm bailing. Find somebody else to read your mammograms.

Posted by: Darren | Nov 17, 2009 2:09:59 PM

Any Darn:

The comment is not an observation that the law is isolated from the economy, it is an observation that young students have chosen to pursue careers in law rather than other professions. The economic incentives in the US economy direct the more talented into a career that is primarily involved in adjudicating disputes or creating contracts, not involved in creating wealth.

The US imports its engineering talent. When the talent leaves, then the US economy will decline. The lawyers will be busy litigating over the distribution of the wealth rather than creating new wealth.

Posted by: NotaYank | Nov 17, 2009 2:01:40 PM

Law schools are profit centers. That's the only reason they exist and continue to increase in number. Law Schools should be modeled on trade schools. If they were, then the faculties of law schools would not be populated by people who practiced law for only 2 or 3 years before turning to teaching, and law school would mercifully end after two years.

Posted by: tk | Nov 17, 2009 1:55:03 PM

I am a businessman. Does this mean they will be cheaper?

Posted by: Tom of the Missouri | Nov 17, 2009 1:34:21 PM

"Good luck with that move to India or China. You'll finally be free from all the taxes and red tape! Bye-bye bureaucracy!"

And hello gainful employment.

Posted by: Roark | Nov 17, 2009 1:00:22 PM

No surprise. I'm a doctor. My wife's a doctor.

So far our kids seem bright enough to be MDs or JDs -- and we're actively talking them out of medical school. Too much work for too little control and too little pay. Who'd a thunk it?

Posted by: A doc | Nov 17, 2009 12:28:16 PM

They're all doctors...

Posted by: Dr. Wes | Nov 17, 2009 12:08:54 PM

Strange, that people seem to think that the law is somehow isolated from the economic troubles faced by other industries. As a new associate in a small firm, I do not envy my classmates that have had their positions in BigLaw deferred or eliminated, nor do I envy the hordes of graduates that are still wondering when they will find jobs.

Our profession will suffer far more harm than good by this influx of college students who decide to go to law school, simply because they cannot decide on anything better to do. Job satisfaction will continue to decline, as will the number of students graduating without employment.

Posted by: TS | Nov 17, 2009 11:56:57 AM

Good luck with that move to India or China.

You'll finally be free from all the taxes and red tape! Bye-bye bureaucracy!

Posted by: Any Darn | Nov 17, 2009 11:55:36 AM

Not all, my friend. I am an American born engineer.

With that being said, I am looking for jobs in China and India. No way in hell will I be legislated and taxed to death by a country of lawyers.

Posted by: Roark | Nov 17, 2009 11:22:05 AM

This is a sad comment on how incentives in the American economy are playing out. LAW is a growth industry. Reallocation of weath, (or protection of wealth) is considered to be more promising than the creation of the weath. Is it no wonder that all our engineers are Indian and Chinese, and they are returning home.

Posted by: NotaYank | Nov 17, 2009 11:02:17 AM

Appalling. Just what we need- more unproductive redistributors of other people's money.

Posted by: anon | Nov 17, 2009 10:58:47 AM