Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Organ: 1L Attrition Increases As Median LSATs Decline

The Legal Whiteboard:  Part Two - The Impact of Attrition on the Composition of Graduating Classes of Law Students -- 2013-2016, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

In late December 2014, I posted a blog entitled Part One – The Composition of the Graduating Classes of Law Students – 2013-2016. That blog posting described how the composition of the entering classes between 2010 and 2013 has shifted. During that time, the percentage at or above an LSAT of 160 dropped by nearly 20% from 40.8% to 33.4%. Meanwhile, the percentage at or below an LSAT of 149 increased by over 50% from 14.2% to 22.5%.

But this reflects the composition of the entering classes. How do the graduating classes compare with the entering classes? This depends upon the attrition experienced by the students in a given entering class. This much belated Part Two discusses what we know about first-year attrition rates among law schools.

I have compiled attrition data from all of the fully-accredited ABA law schools outside of Puerto Rico for the last four full academic years. I have calculated average attrition rates for the class as a whole and then broken out average attrition rates by law schools in different median LSAT categories – 160+, 155-159, 150-154 and <150.

In a nutshell, overall first-year attrition increases as the median LSAT of the law school decreases. Over the last few years, while “academic attrition” has declined for law schools with median LSATs of 150 or greater, “other attrition” has increased modestly, particularly for law schools with median LSATs <150, resulting in a slight increase in overall first-year attrition between 2010 and 2013.

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Thanks to law school transparency, after one year, if not in the top X, they know what's coming on the other side of graduation.

Overcoming the sunk cost fallacy, one debt horror story at a time. Thanks internets.

Posted by: terry malloy | Oct 6, 2015 10:44:35 AM

The data is rather misleading. In our case,(Chicago Kent) most attrition is due to transfer of students with higher CK GPAs to other law schools, in many cases induced by promises of higher scholarships. Others drop out for non-academic reasons. We have a very low dismissal rate. The taking of lower ranked students by transfer is a means of taking fewer 1L students, and thus maintaining higher LSAT and UGPA statistics for good old US News rankings.

Posted by: Ralh Brill | Oct 6, 2015 11:58:20 AM

HOLY COW! Wait a second: almost one quarter of the 2013 matriculants had LSAT's of 149 or less?? Is that correct? Wow...If true, that has absolutely devastating implications for the profession.

I recall reading a while back about a journalist who took the LSAT completely cold (absolutely no practice or prior exposure to the test whatsoever) and scored a 154! Sure, that's one person, and anecdotal, but if someone can score a 154 on the test the first time with no prep, what does that say about those who do prep, and even take multiple times, and fail to break 149? How will they pass the bar? Say it ain't so! Do the administrators at these bottom rung schools feel any sense of responsibility?? At what point do some of these schools do what dental schools did back in the 80's and just close rather than saturating the country with indebted, incapable JD holders? Whoa, I am blown away, some regulator somewhere needs to save law schools from themselves, i can see law schools now touting brain drain and a coming lawyer shortage as a twisted marketing pitch...

Posted by: Anon | Oct 6, 2015 1:58:24 PM