Like a scratched compact disc repeating the same tired phrase, some law school topics keep replaying over-and-over. This week, the annoying repeat is that law school students must be getting dumber. The reasoning is falling average LSAT scores.
Here are the facts. There has been a 28% drop in 1L enrollment from 2010 (from a record-high 52,488 in 2010 to 37,924 in 2014). We all know this. While this was happening, average LSAT scores were also declining. The number of schools with median LSAT scores between 160 and 180 declined from 77 to 50. What’s more, schools with median LSAT scores of less than 150 catapulted from nine to 36.
In an article from The American Lawyer, Brian Tamanaka, a professor from Washington University School of Law, says this is “a picture of serious deterioration of student quality across dozens of law schools.” Traditionally, the LSAT is meant to measure likelihood of success during the first year of law school as well as bar passage. This year also saw continued drop in bar pass rates.
Nevertheless, law consultant David Barnard told The American Lawyer that while clients hiring from top schools are not “deeply worried,” they are “somewhat concerned” that the talent pipeline could dry up. Administrators from the University of Michigan School of Law and the University of California-Berkeley Law School say they continue to have strong numbers of qualified applicants apply to their schools. If one thing is lacking, it is a diversity of top applicants.
Edward Tom, the admissions dean at UC Berkeley, says they are less concerned with the quality of the classes and more focused on the “composition” of the classes. They are seeing less of what Tom describes as applicants with “interesting backgrounds.”
Still, there has to be some concern in what exactly practicing lawyers in the next few years will be like. Will they be more or less capable? Or stay the same? Will they even be able to pass the bar? Time will surely tell.
Source: The American Lawyer
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