Paul L. Caron
Dean




Monday, January 4, 2021

Reading The Fall 2021 Law School Admissions Tea Leaves: 10%-30% Applicant Increase, Higher LSAT-Flex Exam Scores

Following up on my previous post, 40% Through the Fall 2021 Admissions Season: Applicants Are Up 31%, With Biggest Increases Among The Highest LSAT Bands And Applicants Of Color: Mike Spivey, 2020/2021 Law School Applicant Data Look:

LSAT ApplicantsOn three out of every four days this year LSAT applicants have outpaced where they were last year; at no point this cycle has LSAT applicant volume dipped below last. It's ranged from as "low" as a 27% increase to as high as a 41% increase.

The last couple weeks have seen a decline in the relative increase — going from an almost 40% increase in mid-December to the current 29% increase. That was to be expected given LSAT score release timing. ... 

[W]e don't have an especially large increase in LSAT takers this year to fuel the increase in applicants. So far there are 56,151 first time test takers this cycle, compared to 55,163 at this time last cycle — a measly thousand-person increase. That presents us with two questions: what's fueling the increase in total applicants, and what's fueling the disproportionate increase in high-scoring applicants? ...

A likelier explanation is that we're just yielding more applicants from the test-taker pool. That makes sense in the current environment, i.e. the economy. It's normal for people to try to ride out a challenging labor market in graduate school (applications to business and medical school are also up significantly). People taking the LSAT this year are likely more serious about attending law school — if only because they lack better options.

175+The other issue is that the highest scoring applicants are disproportionately up beyond any explanation related to how early they might apply. Fortunately, we do have something of an explanation now: LSAC has confirmed that individuals taking the LSAT-Flex exam are receiving higher scores than LSAT-takers were last year (and for what it's worth, test-takers last year were doing noticeably better than the years before it — so we're getting inflated scores on top of already inflated scores). That means we have a much larger pool of higher scoring applicants to draw from, which is being reflected in the absurd increases in those applicants. ...

LSAC recently shifted their language from predicting a 10% increase to a 10-20% increase, which we think is more realistic — and if applicants apply in the same pattern they did last year, that increase could be 25-30%. ...

If the economy doesn't improve, it's also possible we see a longer tail on this application cycle. College students staring at an unemployed or underemployed post-graduation might decide to throw in law school applications later than they usually do.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2021/01/reading-the-fall-2021-law-school-admissions-tea-leaves-10-30-applicant-increase-higher-lsat-flex-exa.html

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