Paul L. Caron

Friday, August 11, 2017

Applicants Plunged 52%, And Acceptance Rates Increased 20%, At Non-T14 Law Schools From 2008 To 2016

U.S. News & World Report, Less Competitive Law School Admissions a Boon for Applicants:

U.S. News data reveal that the average number of applicants at the top 14 schools in the Best Law Schools rankings was 20.6 percent lower for the entering class of 2016 than it was for the entering class of 2008. Meanwhile, the average number of applicants at lower-ranked law schools plunged 52.3 percent between 2008 and 2016.


U.S. News data shows that acceptance rates at the top 14 law schools were only slightly higher for the entering class of 2016 than they were for the entering class of 2008. But acceptance rates at lower-ranked law schools rose more than 20 percentage points between 2008 and 2016.


ABA Journal, Reduction in Law School Applications Result in Favorable Upsides For Some

Legal Education | Permalink


The quality of newly minted attorneys is fairly pronounced. I have experienced attorneys who are unable to properly read statutes, codes, and case law; and unable to present a cogent argument. One would think that after three years of reading, outlining and discussing cases that a new attorney could at a minimum correctly read the law and make a compelling argument (or at least a plausible one). Unfortunately, many new attorneys completely miss the point and end up wasting their time, their clients' time, opposing counsel's time, and the court's time with poorly written and researched filings. I feel most sorry for the client who spent hard earned money on legal services that are not up to par and deficient (although it makes my job easy).

I have never been an advocate for apprenticeships, but I now believe that such a system may be needed to improve the quality of legal services. Maybe a system similar to the licensing of medical doctors is needed. This could benefit the public in many ways. It would improve the quality of legal services, and during the “residency” or “apprenticeship” phase, new graduates could serve low to medium income clients, at reasonable prices or for free.

Finally, the legal market still has not improved to pre-recession levels, and, at this point, I doubt it will ever return. Baby boomers are not retiring in the numbers predicted, and most I have spoken with are determined to continue working well into retirement age. Judges in my state serve well past retirement age and to the statutory maximum age of 75! My old law school needed to buy out many professors well past retirement age, and some refused, continuing to teach. Finally, I worked for a period of time for a federal agency, where despite having generous retirement benefits, many baby boomers are holding on to their positions. Thus, the baby boomer “bubble” is not about to pop anytime soon.

I believe most rationale people see that the risk-return ratio is not in their favor and will not be for several years. It is my opinion that it will not make financial sense to go to law school until the overhang of excess attorneys is absorbed into the marketplace, which could take another 10-15 years. [I say “financial” sense because there are legitimate non-financial reasons to go to law school.]

Posted by: Mark | Aug 12, 2017 8:51:21 AM

You are using averages (versus median) so that outliers and the big drops at the bottom of the pack pull down all of the other schools in the non-T14 group. Nice graphic and sound bite but not very meaningful information.

Posted by: Brian | Aug 11, 2017 4:29:29 PM

Depending on where we look in the T14, the drop in applicants has had a more pronounced effect. At Georgetown, for instance, the 25th / median 75th percentile LSAT splits have gone from 168 / 170 / 172 for matriculants in 2010 to a 162 / 167 / 168 this past fall. In other words the 25th percentile LSAT score at Georgetown six years ago is equal to the 75th percentile LSAT score there last year.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 11, 2017 2:43:07 PM