With all the talk in the media of law school grads suing their alma maters, and with the sharp vignettes of JDs delivering pizzas, upcoming students are catching on. The LSAT Blog has reported that the number of test-takers nose-dived 16% last year (it was 171,514 in 2010, 155,050 in 2011, and 129,925 in the 2011-12 academic year). It seem that potential lawyers are wise to what lays in store for them down the legal path.
Steve Schwartz, who tutors for the LSAT, was not surprised, as he himself has seen fewer students. “This is a major turn of events,” he wrote on his blog, “The tide is turning, folks.”
So what does this mean for law schools?
“What I’d anticipate is that you’ll see the biggest falloff in applications in the bottom end of the law school food chain,” opines Andrew Morriss of the University of Alabama School of Law. “Those schools are going to have significant difficulty because they are dependent on tuition to fund themselves and they’ll either have to cut class size to maintain standards, or accept students with lower credentials.”
Schools must choose between accepting lower qualified applicants, which will raise their failure rate at the bar, or taking in fewer students, which cuts tuition. “At that point,” Mr. Morriss said, “the school is risking a death spiral.”