Law school applications on the decline nationwide

Ashley Lynam

The number of law school applicants has declined by 9.5 percent so far this year. Last year, the number of law school applicants declined by 4.6 percent.

So where are the missing applicants?

“They’re going to work,” Steve Marietti, director of pre-law programs for Kaplan, said. According to Marietti, several possible factors are contributing to this decline in law school applications. The first, and most apparent to admissions officers and career counselors, is the economy. Historically, when the job market is rising, as it is right now, recent college graduates are more likely to start their careers than to continue their education. In the 2001-02 admission year, for example, the job market was suffering major setbacks as the economy lagged. That year law school applications rose by 18 percent.

The decline may also be a correction to the rise in law school applications that occurred several years ago. According to the Law School Admission Council, applications for the 2003-04 admission year rose as high as 100,600, compared to only 95,800 in the 2004-05 count.

Financial factors may also be contributing to this decline. As undergraduate tuition costs rise across the country, students may be less willing to add to their debt by taking out new loans for law school.

So what does this mean for students?

“Bad news for law schools means good news for students,” Marietti explained. Law schools view this change as a cyclical trend that will eventually turn around. They usually do not take any proactive measures to reverse the trend. Regardless of the number of applications that they receive, they still accept the same number or applicants

Even with the decline, law school admissions remain and will continue to remain competitive, Marietti warned. However, Marietti also believes that it is favorable time to consider applying to law school.

“If you are an undergraduate student considering law school as a post-graduate option, the best thing you can do is prepare now,” Marietti said.

Law school admissions consider many factors, such as GPA and extracurricular activities. Because they tend to treat LSAT scores as a foundation in deciding whether or not to consider an applicant, properly preparing for the LSAT and having a solid understanding of the application process are the first and most important steps to take.