After a blockbuster law school admissions cycle for the class entering this fall, you might be hoping that next year’s admissions would ease up, but well, you’d be wrong. According to a survey by Kaplan of 90 admissions officers at American Bar Association-accredited law schools, 78 percent predict that the number of applicants will either stay at last year’s increased volume (45 percent) or go even further up (33 percent). A scant 22 percent think there will be a decrease in applicants.
As some respondents noted:
– “I suspect we’ll see some carryover from the students who applied late last cycle and didn’t receive admissions offers because rosters were full.”
– “If the pandemic and the new variants are brought under control, then we will see a leveling off of application volume to law school. If not, we will continue to see an increase in people interested in law school, especially in the areas of public policy, constitutional law and healthcare law.”
– “Test taker registration shows the possibility of yet another increase.”
And all that means that some applicants with high LSAT scores are getting rejection letters. Seventy-two percent of respondents said that was the case in the most recent cycle.
There’s also an impact of all these qualified candidates on the amount of scholarship money available. Fifty-five percent of survey respondents said those enrolling in the fall of 2022 will receive less scholarship money than this year’s incoming class.
Jeff Thomas, executive director of legal programs at Kaplan, put it into perspective:
“A struggling economy and general societal malaise often lead to a surge in law school applicants, but COVID’s impact on the admissions landscape is unprecedented and will be felt for years. With such high interest, it is not a buyer’s market. A strong LSAT score, which previously almost always guaranteed you a ticket to a top law school, isn’t enough anymore. What this all means is that now you need an extra strong score and extra strong law school application overall. Applicants should also keep in mind that competition for merit-based scholarships remains fierce, as funds are limited to only the highest performing prospective students. We encourage everyone who wants to become a lawyer to continue on this career trajectory, but they should prepare accordingly for a more rigorous admissions process.”
And what impact will all these new lawyers have on the industry? Well, we won’t know for certain for a while. But the law spike in law school admissions during the Great Recession was a pretty bad decision for a lot of folks.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).