Paul L. Caron

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Muller:  The Small Uptick In The Quantity And Quality Of The Law School Class Of 2019

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), What We Can Expect About Legal Education and the Class of 2019:

Much has been written about the "bottoming out" of the law school applicant pool, as schools have experienced a small uptick in applicants over last year. It's true. But I'll offer a few visualizations of where things stand this year for the incoming Class of 2019 and where it stands in relation to recent history.

Derek has four great visualizations showing the small uptick the quantity and quality (but not in the 150-54 and 155-59 bands) of LSAT test-takers, applicants, and (likely) matriculants.  Here is one of the visualizations:


Derek concludes:

Law schools can breathe easy, in that applicants and matriculants will have been relatively steady for a few years now. But absent a projected surge in applicants--and not by a couple of percentage points, but by something like 20-30%--this is the new normal for law schools (although, I feel as though the word "new normal" has been tossed about for quite some time). While it may be a fool's errand to project or guarantee too much, law schools may hope for a total matriculant pool of something around 40,000 or so--but it will be far from not only the recent peak, but also the previous historical average of around 49,000. For the fourth straight year, the incoming class size will be smaller than 40,000.

Legal Education | Permalink


The regulars might be interested to know that Trump's higher education adviser had an interview with Inside Higher Ed today; a Trump administration will get rid of federal student lending and give it all back to the private sector. So in the case of his victory, have fun convincing 0L's that yes, despite the NALP medians and such, their personal law school wage premium will be sufficient that they can start making $1500, $2000, or higher monthly payments within six months of graduation.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 13, 2016 7:58:37 AM

A couple points...

1. I think the headline will change to "Small Downtick In Applicants" by the time we get to the end. Super low lsat scorers are down, and they likely comprise the bulk of May/June applicants. Thus we have not seen the same surge effect as the last couple years, and I expect about a -0.5 decline at the final tally.

2. Bad year for middle of the pack schools since LSATs in the 150 range are down. No relief in the population they draw from.

3. We are approaching a breaking point in elite law school admissions. There may be higher numbers of 165+ LSAT scorers, but they are cost sensitive and will not just pay whatever number administration spits out. I think 11 of the top 14 schools will have to impose a permanent tuition freeze within the next couple years. Enough is enough.

Posted by: JM | May 13, 2016 6:40:59 AM