You want to go to a top law school, but you’re fearful of rejection. You tell yourself your LSAT score isn’t good enough. “It’s too much of a reach,” you tell yourself. Recent admissions statistics may suggest otherwise.
A drop in law school applicants has created a unique window of opportunity for applicants looking to get into traditionally competitive law schools.
US News recently revealed data showing that law school acceptance rates were significantly higher in 2016 than in 2008. Meanwhile, the average number of applicants at the top 14 law schools, according to US News, was 20.6% lower for the entering class of 2016 than it was for the entering class of 2008.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Aaron N. Taylor, executive director of the nonprofit AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence, tells US News that the drop in applications has given current applicants more leverage in negotiation of scholarships and financial aid awards.
“Law schools are more generous overall, meaning that students with lower LSAT scores are probably more likely to receive scholarship aid than they were before the downturn,” Taylor says. “But the scholarship awards for students with higher LSAT scores have become much more generous (and common). So while lower LSAT scorers are reaping some benefits from this renewed generosity, it is the higher LSAT scorers who are reaping the true windfalls.”
Generally, law schools’ reputations are dependent upon the quality of their student body. Data from US News shows that acceptance rates at the top 14 law schools were only slightly higher for the entering class of 2016 than they were for the entering class of 2008. On the other hand, acceptance rates at lower-ranked law schools rose 20% over an eight-year range.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
This year, however, law school acceptances may return to their normal ranges. According to the Law School Admission Council, the number of applicants taking the LSAT in June 2017 was almost 20% higher than it was in June 2016—signifying a rise in law school applicants.
The top law schools have maintained strict academic standards and getting admission into one of these schools is still, relatively speaking, not easy. Take Georgetown University as an example. Ranked 15th the Georgetown Law had a 26.4% acceptance rate for its entering fall class in 2016.
Jeff Thomas, executive director of prelaw programs at Kaplan Test Prep, says however, that if an applicant were to apply to a top-reach law school, now is the time.
“We are still in a time where there are far fewer applicants to law school than there used to be and students should absolutely be encouraged to shoot high,” Thomas tells US News.
Alison Spada, assistant dean of admissions at Georgetown University’s Law Center, says that a drop in the number of law school applicants may signify that the applicant pool overall is more serious about pursuing a legal career.
“One of the things that the leveling or correction of the national market might have done was eliminate some of the people from the applicant pool that were using law school as a fallback,” she says. “So I do think in some ways you were left with maybe fewer applications but a more intentional applicant pool.”