Declining Law School Applications and Challenging Job Market
Continue to Force Changes in U.S. Legal Education
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New York, NY (October 1, 2013) – In a new Kaplan Test Prep survey*, 54% of law school admissions officers report cutting their entering law school classes for 2013-2014 and 25% plan to do so again next year. This marks two years in a row that law schools report cutting their entering class sizes; Kaplan’s 2012 survey showed 51% of schools cutting the size of their entering classes. According to the Law School Admission Council, the organization that writes the LSAT, since its recent peak in 2010, law school applications have dropped from 602,300 to 385,400 in 2013 – their lowest level in decades.
In another response to a still challenging job market, 71% of law schools report introducing more clinical courses and practical training into their curricula, aimed at making their graduating students more “practice ready.” This comes in the wake of an American Bar Association task force report in September that calls for sweeping changes in legal education, including greater focus on practice-readiness, more financial aid, and greater experimentation and differentiation by law schools.**
Other key findings from Kaplan Test Prep’s survey of law school admissions officers:
Change Needed: 78% of law school admissions officers think that “the U.S. legal education system needs to undergo significant changes to better prepare future attorneys for the changing employment landscape and legal profession.” On this point, they agree with the vast majority of pre-law students (79%) and recent law school graduates (87%) who answered the same way in June and August Kaplan surveys, respectively.
Near-term pessimism: 67% don’t think the steep, three-year decline of law school applications will reverse itself in the 2013-2014 admissions cycle.
More Schools Accepted June LSAT Scores: Traditionally, February has been the latest LSAT administration from which law schools accepted scores for fall admissions, but a growing number of schools have been accepting June LSAT scores – likely seeking to increase applicant pools. 78% of schools say they accepted scores from the June 2013 LSAT administration for the academic year that started in fall 2013; this was an increase over the 68% who say they accepted June 2012 LSAT scores for fall 2012 admissions.
Results from a smaller subset of law school survey respondents show that just 25% agree with President Obama’s recent statement that law schools should think about condensing their current three year programs into two year programs for all JD candidates. The finding reflects the view that this fundamental change may be a hard sell among law schools and is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
“Our survey finds that law schools are adapting to a challenging marketplace and realistic about how long it may take to get to a better place. The good news is that most law schools say they are already taking measures to provide better practical training for their students,” said Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “While it’s clear there will be more changes and challenges ahead for legal education, ideally schools are looking at ways to better prepare tomorrow’s lawyers for finding a job and succeeding in their careers.”
For more information about Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey of law school admissions officers and/or schedule an interview with a Kaplan law school admissions expert, please contact Russell Schaffer at 212.453.7538 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Admissions officers from 127 of the nation’s 203 American Bar Association-approved law schools — including 10 of the top 25 ranked ones, as compiled by U.S. News & World Report — were polled by telephone between July and September 2013.
** “Task Force Backs Changes in Legal Education System,” The New York Times, September 20, 2013, Tamar Lewin: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/education/task-force-backs-changes-in-legal-education-system.html?_r=0
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