The number of LSAT test takers in the 2017-18 admissions cycle has increased by 18.1%.
TaxProf Blog reports that the LSAT is seeing its largest increase since 2001-02. In December 2017, the LSAT saw 40,096 test takers — a whopping increase of 27.9% compared to December 2016’s 31,340 test takers.
Check out the numbers below.
One potential reason behind why there are more LSAT test takers — the “Trump Bump.”
“It may very well be that more recent college grads and early professionals are choosing to pursue careers in which they believe they can truly make a difference,” Don Rebstock, associate dean of strategic initiatives at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, tells the Chicago Tribune.
Specifically, legal educators cite Trump’s controversial executive order of the travel ban, which attempted to half refugee admissions from seven countries as a major motivator for the increase in LSAT takers.
Trump’s travel ban resulted in lawyers across the country standing up to offer free legal help to international travelers who may have been affected by the executive order.
“People against Trump are saying, ‘I want to be the judge that stood up to him.’ People for Trump are saying, ‘I could’ve won that case for him’,” Kellye Testy, president and CEO of the Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, tells the Chicago Tribune. “Young people were saying, ‘Wow, the lawyers are really stepping up to talk back to power and help guard the rule of law and democracy.’ The positive role of a lawyer was made visible in a way that it’s often not.”
Changes by LSAC
In addition to Trump Bump, experts also cite changes by LSAC as a potential reason for the increase in LSAT test takers.
LSAC recently lifted the cap on the number of times you can take the LSAT,” Jeff Thomas, Kaplan Test Prep’s executive director of pre-law programs, tells Above The Law. “Previously, test-takers were limited to sitting for three administrations over a two-year period. Perhaps more students are testing the waters now.”
LSAC also made changes to the LSAT’s testing calendar. Last June’s exam was a week later than 2016’s, giving college test takers a bit of additional time to cram and prepare after their semester ended.
A Rebounding Legal Market
Despite a plummeting fall in 2008’s recession, the economy has been improving.
“To be clear, hiring is not, nor will it ever be, the same as it was during the pre-recession years at the turn of the millennium,” Blue Print LSAT reports. “But there is slightly–ever so slightly less panic about finding a job out of law school. The prospect of a high-paying, entry-level job out of law school is likely a huge motivator, particularly for people unsure of the career pay they want to pursue.”
Although there is an increase in LSAT test takers, that doesn’t necessarily correlate to an increase in applications.
“LSAT test-takers are not proportionately translating into applicants; indeed, despite a 3.3% increased in LSATs administered last year, applicants actually declined slightly, and matriculents increased only 0.8%,” Derek T. Muller, an associate professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law, writes for Excess of Democracy.
Part of the reason behind this, Muller says, is the increased number of repeaters taking the LSAT.
“That said, surely such a significant increase in the percentage of LSAT test-takers would yield at least some increase in applicants and matriculants–particularly given the quality of those test takers,” Muller writes. “Only time will tell.”