Law schools may be getting the big break they’ve been hoping for.
Law.com reports that the number of people applying to law school for the upcoming academic year increased by 8%—the most significant increase since 2010. According to the data, released by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), 60,401 applicants applied to law schools this fall. Last year, the number was 55,580.
“I’ve heard from a number of schools that this year they are worried about, not under-enrollment, but over-enrollment,” LSAC president Kellye Testy tells Law.com. “Because the demand was so strong, some schools are finding that they may have had higher yield rates than they had in prior years, and they may have larger classes than they aimed for.”
More Qualified Applicants
On top of an increase in the applicant pool, this year’s applicants also are more qualified. The number of applicants who scored 175 to 180, the highest score band on the LSAT, increased 60% when compared to last year. 13% more test-takers scored 170 to 174—the second highest score band. And 27% more test takers scored 165 to 169, according to Law.com.
There is also further hope for law schools that the applicant numbers will increase even more next year. According to Law.com, the number of test-takers for the LSAT in June and July (which are considered the beginning of the new admission cycle) increased 30% when compared to last year.
Not All Good News
More law students, however, cautions for more competition in the legal employment market.
Law schools will need to mindful that entry-level jobs may dip with the increase in law students. According to Law.com, the law employment market has improved in recent years largely due to the fact that there have been fewer newly minted lawyers competing for jobs.
“The job market is looking good,” Testy tells Law.com. “But that means we need to hold steady more than growing wildly. Overall, it’s good news. But we want to make sure we’re really being thoughtful about matching the enrollment side with the employment opportunity side.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for lawyers is expected to grow 8%. Law.com also reports that starting pay for the Class of 2017 also rose to $104,000.
“Competition for jobs over the next 10 years is expected to be strong because more students graduate from law school each year than there are jobs available,” the Bureau states.