LSAT Takers Plunge Yet Again

If you’re headed for law school anytime soon, the competition to get into a school seems to be lessening yet again. The number of people taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), offered in October plunged 16.4% from the year before, reaching its lowest level since 1999. The Law School Admission Council said that 37,780 people took the test in October, down from 45,169 a year earlier.

It’s also the fourth consecutive October of declining test takers, having fallen from an October peak of 60,746 in 2009.

No wonder, then, that law schools are cutting the size of their entering classes. Perhaps this means it’ll still be easier to get into the top schools, though, depending on how much the most elite schools decide to shrink their class sizes.

There was a huge surge in law school applications during the recession and its immediate aftermath as people displaced by the poor economy sought the “safety” of a legal career. But now potential students seem to have wised up to the huge debt burden and poor job placement prospects.

One recent paper actually suggests that law’s reputation for providing a risk-free career path has been a fiction for a long time. It notes that the legal market has become more crowded, with the ratio of the American population to American lawyers morphing to 252 to 1 in 2005 from 695 to 1 in 1951. The paper also estimated that, of the 1.4 million law graduates of the last 40 years, about 200,000 to 600,000 are not working as lawyers.