Law schools are predicting another tough admissions cycle in 2021-2022.
A new Kaplan survey polled admissions officers at 90 ABA-accredited law schools and found that 78% predict that the number of applicants will either stay at last cycle’s elevated volume (45%) or increase (33%). Only 22% of law schools believe there will be a decrease in applicants.
RECENT SURGE IN APPLICANTS
The most recent admissions cycle saw a record-breaking number of applicants applying to law school. According to data from the Law School Admission Council reported by Reuters, admission to law school this fall surged nearly 13% — the largest year-over-year percentage increase since 2002.
Experts say there are a number of potential reasons why an influx of people have decided to apply to law school—from the death of George Floyd to a national uprise over systematic racism.
“Just seeing what was going on in the world and all the disparities — so much was happening where a legal education can really change things for somebody,” Susan Krinsky, the council’s executive vice president for operations, tells Reuters.
With the historic competition from the most recent admissions cycle, many predict that it won’t get any easier to gain admission into law school in the upcoming cycle.
In fact, 72% of law schools surveyed by Kaplan say that they rejected more applicants with what they consider to be high LSAT scores than they did in the previous cycle.
“I suspect we’ll see some carryover from the students who applied late last cycle and didn’t receive admissions offers because rosters were full,” one surveyed respondent added.
This intense competition also means less financial aid. Compared to applicants who enrolled in fall 2021, 55% of law schools say applicants enrolling in 2022 will receive less scholarship money. 38% say the level will stay the same, while only 7% say it will increase.
“A struggling economy and general societal malaise often lead to a surge in law school applicants, but COVID’s impact on the admissions landscape is unprecedented and will be felt for years. With such high interest, it is not a buyer’s market. A strong LSAT score, which previously almost always guaranteed you a ticket to a top law school, isn’t enough anymore. What this all means is that now you need an extra strong score and extra strong law school application overall,” Jeff Thomas, executive director of legal programs at Kaplan, says. “Applicants should also keep in mind that competition for merit-based scholarships remains fierce, as funds are limited to only the highest performing prospective students. We encourage everyone who wants to become a lawyer to continue on this career trajectory, but they should prepare accordingly for a more rigorous admissions process.”