Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Is Now the Time to Apply to Law School?

Over at Slate, Annie Lowrey argues that the surge of law school applicants and graduates was a bubble and that the bubble was burst by cultural, rather than economic forces.

In the past year or two, scads of blogs have committed themselves to exposing law school as a "scam," and the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have devoted thousands of words to telling readers why law school is a bad,bad idea if you do not actually want to be a lawyer.

As we've noted, law school applications are down over 11% this year to 2001 levels.  Who knows - maybe they'll drop even more next year.  And maybe the market for lawyers will continue to suffer - after all, automation and the off-shoring of legal work could reduce the long term demand for lawyers in the U.S.

Maybe.  Or maybe not.  But we know this much.  Because law school applications are down this year, it's likely a student's LSAT will go a lot farther in this admissions cycle.  Over at the Faculty Lounge, I've posted a chart comparing the 2001 and 2009 LSAT's for admitted students at a selection of different law schools.  What's the takeaway?  LSAT's are up - and in some cases way up - over the eight year period.  

There are other possible explanations for the phenomenon beyond a more competitive market for students.  We know some schools increased their reliance on transfer students.  Overall LSAT scores might be up.  But the data suggests, at least, that particularly among the more elite schools, this might be an excellent opportunity to - shall we say - get more house for your LSAT dollar.

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