Paul L. Caron

Saturday, December 19, 2015

NLJ:  Law School Enrollment Slumps 5 Percent

ABAFollowing up on this week's posts (ABA Releases 2015 Standard 509 Information Reports For Every Law School; 1L Enrollment Is At 42-Year Low):  National Law Journal, Law School Enrollment Slumps 5 Percent:

Enrollment in the nation’s law schools dropped nearly 5 percent in 2015, including a slump by 2.2 percent in first-year class sizes, according to data provided by the American Bar Association. ...

Although total enrollment for juris doctor degrees is down by nearly 6,000 to 113,900 this year, total first-year matriculation is more of a mixed bag. Ninety-seven schools reported same or increased first-year classes compared with last year's 69 schools, while 107 schools reported decreased first-year enrollment compared to 127 last year.

The overall first-year numbers, however, continue a downward trajectory. This year, first-year students totaled 37,058 students, compared with last year's tally of 37,894, marking a nearly 30 percent drop in first-year enrollment since 2010’s high-water mark of 52,488 students.

Over that period “more strong students left the applicant pool and more weak students joined it,” said Bernie Burk. ...The good news for law schools is “this is smallest decrease in a while and it seems also like we’ve reached the bottom of the trough,” said Professor Alfred Brophy of University of North Carolina School of Law. The Law School Admission Council last week reported applications for the 2016-17 school year are up 3.4 percent, a figure that led Brophy to predict a modest enrollment bump next year. “I thought we might get down to 35,000 first-years before we started turning around. It’s not as bad as I would have expected,” said Brophy. ...

Charleston School of Law cut its first year matriculation nearly in half from 166 to 85, and the University of Connecticut, Liberty University and Whittier each saw their first-year classes go down almost 40 percent. In sheer numbers, Charlotte and Florida Coastal Schools of Law lost the most seats at 137 and 104, respectively.

On the opposite side of the ledger, William Mitchell College of Law's 320 first years in 2015 is almost double 2014's matriculation figure thanks to the school's January launch of a hybrid online/on-campus program that brought in a vastly increased part-time student population.

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