Advise-In’s Prediction of a Decline in Law School Applications is Confirmed: Applications are Down (Way Down)

Back in December, I said that I suspected that law school applications could be down this year, contrary to the earlier prediction of law school admissions personnel that applications would continue to rise, as they had in each of the last two years.  Earlier this year, I reiterated Advise-In’s prediction of a law school application decline and indicated that the drop might be sharper than I’d previously thought.

I can’t say for sure but I think Advise-In was the first to publish a prediction of a decline.  In any case, that belief has now been confirmed by the Law School Admissions Council, which reports that, compared to the same stage of the process last year, applications are down by over 11%, bringing them to their lowest level since 2001, unless there’s a significant number of late applicants (which is possible, since law schools will likely be more accommodating to late applicants if they’re having trouble filling their classes (read, bringing in cash)).

A double-digit decline is extremely sharp and probably explains why tuition increases at middle- to lower-ranked schools were smaller than last year (stay tuned, our annual report on tuition numbers will be published here soon).  It also indicates that the continuing coverage of the troubled legal employment market, coming from this and other blogs, and more recently picked up by major media outlets such as The New York Times, may be having an effect.

To be sure, the numbers also probably indicate a little more confidence in the economy at large, so that law school seems less attractive for those who were thinking about it as a (very expensive and uncertain) delay in facing, or escape route from, a turbulent economy.  But it’s hard to see how just feeling better about the economy accounts for the whole of the decline.

I confess to being extremely pleased at the LSAC’s report, even though a large part of Advise-In’s business is customized LSAT prep and law school admissions advising.  But in the end, I don’t want clients to say to me, several years down the road, “Why didn’t you tell me…?”  About the financial risks of law school.  About the huge disparity in high-quality opportunities available to you depending on the law school you attended.  About how hard practicing law is.  In other words, “Why weren’t you concerned that I’d be happy?”  So, my guest bloggers and I persistently point out the risks and dangers of law school and a career in law (we probably should point out the pleasures a little more, but the ABA and others already provide enough pieces on that).  And I try to make sure that my private clients really want to be lawyers.

For the record, being a lawyer can be a great job in the right circumstances—it was for me—but only if it’s what you want to do, and you know what being a lawyer actually involves.  The decline in law school applications may indicate that we’re at least a little bit closer to the fortunate circumstance in which more of those who aren’t really committed to being lawyers aren’t applying, at least this year.  That’s less money for law schools, to be sure, but there are a lot of people who will be considerably happier a decade from now.  People who are really excited by the law will always apply to law school—and they’ll generally be the best lawyers, too.  It’s good news for them, and for the legal profession, if a higher proportion of law school graduates love will love what they do after law school.

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on March 17, 2011.

6 Responses to “Advise-In’s Prediction of a Decline in Law School Applications is Confirmed: Applications are Down (Way Down)”

  1. […] Advise-In’s Prediction of a Decline in Law School Applications is Confirmed: Applications are Down… […]

  2. […] than law school seats.  To be sure, it appears that law schools this year did not anticipate the decline in law school applications that is upon them.  But even with that decline, there are still about 1.5 times as many applicants […]

  3. […] sobering debt numbers may help account for the sharp drop in law school applications this past year, which in turn may limit law school tuition increases next year.  But don’t count […]

  4. […] the same as for the class of 2009 but the number of 2010 graduates was greater.  The number of law school applicants this year, of course, reversed a trend of application increases, and certain law schools have indicated that […]

  5. […] presented by LSAC at the NAPLA conference on June 10 indicates that in the last year—in which law school applications dropped by over 10%—applications from men declined 12.1%; from women, 9.7%.  However, the percentage of male […]

  6. […] aside from confirming (and perhaps exceeding) my past predictions, what does this mean for you? Practically speaking, it could mean a little or a lot if you are […]

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