Law school rush may be over, with applications down 10%

  • With the U.S. economy on firmer ground and without the drama of the 2020 election, law school isn’t such a hot ticket this year
  • The applicant pool has returned to normal levels

(Reuters) – Getting into a top law school last year was no small feat, with a 13% surge in applications resulting in the most competitive admissions season on record.

But the admissions scene has cooled off considerably this year. Applications to American Bar Association-accredited law schools are down 10% as of early March, which means landing a spot in the fall isn’t quite as tough.

According to the Law School Admission Council, 47,841 people so far have applied for fall 2022. That’s 5,089 fewer than this time last year, when 78% of all applications had been submitted.

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“This is a return to normality,” said law school admissions consultant Mike Spivey, noting that applications typically go up during presidential election years and that law school was seen as a way to wait out a tough entry-level job market early in the pandemic.

A spokesman for LSAC said Thursday that the organization had predicted applicant volume would come down significantly from last year.

A late-cycle wave of applications looks unlikely to materialize. The decline from last year has become steadily more apparent over time, with the number of applicants down just 5% at the end of November. Moreover, recent LSAT administrations have had a high ratio of repeat takers, Spivey noted. Those are people who have likely already applied but are trying to get a higher score on the exam to bolster their prospects for admission and financial aid.

This admission cycle was particularly front-loaded with people submitting their applications early. Many of them were shut out during last year’s highly competitive cycle and were ready to try again as soon as the current process opened, he said.

Spivey expects the total number of applicants to be down about 12% by cycle’s end, essentially erasing the applicant gains schools saw last year and returning to 2020 levels.

“The market is starting to signal a dearth in people interested in going to law school,” he said.

Read more:

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Law school applicants are down, breaking five-year streak

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