By T S • December 28, 2014
Members of the LSAC, the creators of law school examination LSAT®, new law school applications for law school edged off 8% for this fall, after two years of dropping at rates in the double digits. Call that a loss, or call that a victory, it indicates that since the year 2010, a total drop of 37 percent off of applications formerly is the scenario of the current law school landscape. A legal expert in the education community maintains that 2014-2015’s entering law school class could be just 38,000, which is lower than it has ever been in the past 40 years for entrance into ABA-accredited schools.
Bureau of Labor stats hold that for the period leading up to Oct 2014, legal is currently at levels 46,000 fewer jobs than pre-recession levels which were records as of the year 2007. This means that if you are out in the job market as an attorney, looking for a job, then the prospects do not look rosy. Many of the major firms have hiring freezes and the smaller law offices are guarded in their approach at best.
Some schools saw applications edge higher, as was the case for University of Southern California Gould School of Law. Yet without more evidence of the same, it would appear that the optimism of the legal educators is severely misplaced. Executive director for Kaplan pre-law Test Prep feels that it is likely premature for celebration. Job market stats do not appear extremely promising for grads and remains the major reason for decline in applications to law schools. Absent the demand from the other side of law school, applications will likely do nothing more than flat-line or decrease. Yet if there turns out being indications of significant improvement for job market prospects, then we could eventually see this spike that everyone in the legal education community has been hoping for. Until that time, there will continue to be layoffs and hiring freezes at law schools.
One potential factor which could push for increases in law school applications could stem from the actual slowdown in the economy. When the economy slows, many people who are in a current profession use the slowdown as their opportunity to retool via education into another career. Because of the large drops in real estate and stock market levels, applications could increase. However, until this correction occurs in the market which many are predicting, the economy is still just sluggishly strong enough to keep the number of applicants from ticking up. A poor economy drives folks into applying to law school due to not finding other jobs after they finish their initial 4-year college degrees or as they are experiencing slowdowns in their chosen fields and are seeking a new type of job. The old adage of waiting the recession out in law school is what essentially would be the case.