Changes To Law School Admissions Only Affecting Some
Some top law schools have fired back at recent reports from Bloomberg Businessweek claiming even the top schools have been left unscathed from the law school brain drain. The reports found, over the past five years, that the top 20 law schools named by the U.S. News have had a median application drop of 19%. Yale Law School’s application drop over the five years was 13%–well within the school’s historic range, reports the JD Journal.
While Yale has seen a significant drop in applications, it hasn’t seen a significant drop in class size, which has remained at around 200 per class. What’s more, average GPA and LSAT scores have also remained constant, reports the JD Journal.
“The biggest drivers of the decline in law school applications nationwide have been the shrinking of the private legal employment market, combined with the rising amount of debt among law school graduates,” Asha Rangappa, associate dean for admissions and financial aid at Yale Law told JD Journal. “We are fortunate to still have more qualified applicants than we can accept, which has allowed us to keep our class size the same.”
As the Yale Daily News reports, the number of applicants to law schools might be at the bottom and on a slight uptick. Wendy Margolis, the director of communications for the Law School Admissions Council–the organization which administers the LSAT–told the Daily News that as of January 29, applications to American Bar Association-accredited schools have actually increased by .9% compared to the same time in 2015.
Meantime, schools like the University of Michigan Law School have slashed their class sizes to preserve the level of undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores. Michigan Law has decreased their class size by 26% since 2011. Sarah Zearfoss, assistant dean of admissions at Michigan Law, told the Daily News that some results from decreased applications are apparent–like lower median LSAT scores or smaller class sizes. Other effects, Zearfoss explained, are less apparent. For example, schools might be admitting students with less (or not as impressive) professional experience or students with higher undergraduate GPAs from from less prestigious undergraduate universities and colleges.
For law school applicants, this could mean emphasizing “soft factors” like undergraduate institutions attended and work experience might not play as helpful of a role in law school admissions compared to five or ten years ago.
Source: JD Journal & Yale Daily News
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