Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sharp Drop in LSAT Takers for Second Year Now

This is great news. Thanks again David Segal.

From the New York Times:

The organization behind the Law School Admission Test reported that the number of tests it administered this year dropped by more than 16 percent, the largest decline in more than a decade.

The Law School Admission Council reported that the LSAT was given 129,925 times in the 2011-12 academic year. That was well off the 155,050 of the year before and far from the peak of 171,514 in the year before that. In all, the number of test takers has fallen by nearly 25 percent in the last two years.

The decline reflects a spreading view that the legal market in the United States is in terrible shape and will have a hard time absorbing the roughly 45,000 students who are expected to graduate from law school in each of the next three years. And the problem may be deep and systemic.

Many lawyers and law professors have argued in recent years that the legal market will either stagnate or shrink as technology allows more low-end legal work to be handled overseas, and as corporations demand more cost-efficient fee arrangements from their firms.

That argument, and news that so many new lawyers are struggling with immense debt, is changing the way law school is perceived by undergrads. Word is getting through that law school is no longer a safe place to sit out an economic downturn — an article of faith for years — and that strong grades at an above-average school no longer guarantees a six-figure law firm job.

“For a long time there has been this culturally embedded perception that if you go to law school, it will be worth the money,” said Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, a legal education policy organization. “The idea that law school is an easy ticket to financial security is finally breaking down.”

Law schools have also suffered through some withering press in the last couple of years. Some blogs, most of them written by unemployed or underemployed graduates, have accused law schools of enticing students with shady data. Attention has focused on a crucial statistic: the percentage of graduates who are employed nine months after graduation.

In recent months, class-action lawsuits have been filed against more than a dozen law schools, charging that students were snookered into enrolling by postgraduate employment figures that were vastly, and fraudulently, inflated. Even if law schools are able to defeat these lawsuits — and many legal scholars anticipate they will — the media attention has been bruising. Steve Schwartz, an LSAT tutor, said the new LSAT figures were not a surprise, given the steady decline in the number of students seeking one-on-one tutoring.

“This is a major turn of events,” he wrote of the newly reported test numbers on his LSAT Blog, “The tide is turning, folks.”

For some law schools, the dwindling number of test-takers represents a serious long-term challenge.

“What I’d anticipate is that you’ll see the biggest falloff in applications in the bottom end of the law school food chain,” said Andrew Morriss of the University of Alabama School of Law. “Those schools are going to have significant difficulty because they are dependent on tuition to fund themselves and they’ll either have to cut class size to maintain standards, or accept students with lower credentials.”

If they take the second course, Mr. Morriss said, it would hurt the school three years later because there is a strong correlation between poor performance on the LSAT and poor performance on the bar exam. If students start failing the bar, then the prestige of the school will drop, which would mean lowering standards even more. “At that point,” Mr. Morriss said, “the school is risking a death spiral.”



  1. When I looked at my TTT school's incoming stats, they are still filling all the 1L slots. The number of applications are down though.

    1. The quality of the applicants must be plunging which will equate to lower bar pass rates unless the honorable state bars dumb down the test.

  2. Wait until Pottery majors with 3.4 GPAs and 138 LSATs start enrolling in ABA-accredited law schools.

    1. If bar pass rates plummet at that point its on the ABA and the State Bar exams. If the states drop their standards even more than this "profession" (its really a business now) will become a laughing stock. At the rate things are going I believe that the tier 3 and 4 schools will start imploding. If this year is bad wait until 2013 as the problem continues to get BIGGER and worse. When enough schools have closed and class sizes have been reduced then the market can slowly begin healing itself.

  3. Hello Friends.........

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  4. Hey Subprime, this is the same guy who told you 3+ years in one area law puts you in the game forever.

    This is a step in the right direction, but really, we need to see a 60% decrease in enrollment, anything less will not cause the market to start healing itself.

    The holdup is these law schools will not all comply right away with the new salary reporting requirements. Every single one of them needs to do it, and also needs to be forced to disclose these figures to prospective students.

    Did you love the time-bomb that exploded in one of these articles? ABA outright saying (not verbatim, but something along these lines) "we know that this information could be useful, but it should not be required of law schools because the graduates with lower salaries will not report their salary, making the data potentially misleading." BOOM. How many lower salary graduates are there? Enough to skew salary information of a graduating class. Man I WOULD LOVE to see that on a law school prospective applicant brochure. "This data is not representative of the whole class because lower salary graduates tend not to report their salary." HHAAHAHAHA

    Of course the ABA is dragging its feet on it, and those schools are dragging their feet, because those numbers are very damaging. That's really what this whole lawsuit is about, forcing those numbers out in the open in front of the world. It doesn't even matter if they win or lose. The real employment figures are what we need to plunge a knife into the heart of the law school cartel.

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  7. I hate how they stick in the 6 figure qualifier. It should read "Graduation from any non-T14, and even the bottom half of the T14 with average grades does not allow the potential for an average $50k salary for most grads"

    Now that would be some cold water on the lemmings faces that they wouldn't need to go into 6 figure debt for.

  8. to above poster - agreed, times 10. It is the biggest strawman the law school cartel and ABA sets up - 'you cannot just expect $160,000 out the gates with a low grades from a low-tier school." $50,000 is an achievement, $65,000 is a milestone. Probably 50% of the licensed attorneys or less make around there from each ABA accredited school.

  9. Thanks to the Tiny Baby Jesus that the word is getting out. Naturally, this probably meant that a large percentage of smart people stayed away and the ranks were disproportionately filled with mouth breathers who don't have the wits about them to pay back the loans. Furthermore, the law schools were still able to fill the chairs even though the number of LSAT takers shrank. However, it is a start. Let's wait until the new crop starts blogging in a couple of years when they can barely land a summer gig as a volunteer.

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