Paul L. Caron

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Law School Applications Continue to Plummet

LSAC, Three-Year ABA Volume Comparison:

As of 1/03/14, there are 131,097 Fall 2014 applications submitted by 19,529 applicants. Applicants are down 13.6% and applications are down 15.8% from 2013.

A line chart titled Fall ABA Applications by Week. The horizontal axis represents months November through August. Along its vertical axis are numbers 0 through 800,000 indicating number of applications. The line labeled Fall 2012 curves gently beginning with 107,415 in November, reaching 433,632 in March, then gradually plateauing to end in August at 469,507. The line labeled Fall 2013 increases from 77,985 in November to 342,993 in March, ending at 385,358 in August. The line labeled Fall 2014 rises slightly from 67,195 to 131,097.

Legal Education | Permalink


We are very far off from 1994-1998 levels of applicants:

This year we project to be under 55, 000 applicants. Nothing even close to that all the way back through the 1980s. Worth noting that the population of the US has grown by over a third since the early eighties.

Posted by: Not true | Jan 12, 2014 11:59:50 PM

The legal profession is not as healthy as it was in the 1990s.

We now have companies such as legal zoom which are illegally practicing law without a license and driving down prices on legal work for many, many solo practitioners (yet the ABA and State Bars don't care.)

Additionally, there is the issue of excessive tort reform which has cut into many lawyers' incomes (media bias has given trial lawyers a bad rap in the minds of too many juries.)

At the other end, there is the issue of outsourcing a lot of menial document review work to English speaking lawyers in the Philippines and using software to further cut down on billable hours (again, this is practicing law without a license.)

Lastly, cost-conscious corporate clients have begun reducing the budgets they are willing to spend on Big Law clients.

Little Virginia, this is NOT panic. These trends ARE REAL and represent a fundamental downward shift to the legal industry. The future will need FEWER lawyers who will be making FEWER dollars. Deal with it.

Posted by: Milk was a bad choice! | Jan 11, 2014 8:28:05 PM

Debt: Apples-to-apples, please. 1L's per law school is not what we are comparing - Especially since there are 20 more ABA law schools now than in 1994.

Posted by: anon | Jan 10, 2014 5:44:25 PM

"social justice anon" - are you seriously operating under the assumption that productivity is unchanged within the last 15 years? You've heard of Lexis and Westlaw, right? Wouldn't it be fair to say that the same quantity of humans can now do more, and therefore available "representation" is a little more complex than merely a headcount of practicing attorneys?

The problem is that student loans don't get paid off unless hourly rates are set at a rate that precludes low-income folks from obtaining representation.

Posted by: anon | Jan 10, 2014 2:11:08 PM

Why bother? Nobody follows the law anymore. Congressional mandate to provide a budget?Meh. Don't want to enforce Obamacare? Grant waivers. Change requirements and due dates. So why worry about training as a lawyer?
Posted by a retired lawyer.

Posted by: jimbrock | Jan 10, 2014 12:08:13 PM

Is the need for legal representation at 1994-1998 levels?

Yes. The world had five times as many lawyers as it needed in 1194.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Jan 10, 2014 12:07:13 PM

Anon - Is the need for legal representation at 1994-1998 levels?

Posted by: social justice anon | Jan 10, 2014 8:36:34 AM

Sounds like some are still whistling past the graveyard. Just a correction?


Posted by: PD Quig | Jan 10, 2014 8:25:21 AM

1ls per law school is different than number of 1ls. There are more law schools now than there were 20 years ago. That no doubt accounts for some (maybe all) of the discrepancy.

Posted by: HTA | Jan 10, 2014 8:08:23 AM

We could drop to 1975 levels and still be producing too many lawyers for the available jobs.

Posted by: CatoRenasci | Jan 10, 2014 7:44:24 AM

Oh yes. Definitely 1994-98 levels...

Posted by: debt. | Jan 9, 2014 7:30:55 PM

Correction or end of the world? End of the world generates more traffic....and attention.

Posted by: tony smith | Jan 9, 2014 4:24:54 PM

Meh. We're just back to 1994-1998 levels. It's not a plummet when you come off of a bubble. It's a "market correction."

Posted by: Anon | Jan 9, 2014 3:22:46 PM