In a press release from Kaplan, the Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of law school admissions officers found that 51 percent of law schools decided to cut the size of their incoming classes. In the survey, 63 percent said that the reason for cutting the size of incoming classes was due to the job market contraction in the legal industry. The survey also said that of the law schools yet to cut class sizes, 28 percent said they likely will make those cuts for their current application cycles.
The survey found that 68 percent of the schools surveyed have changed their curriculum to better prepare their students to be ‘practice ready.’ Five percent of respondents said that they have decided to change the curriculum but have yet to put those changes in place. Nine percent of law schools surveyed said that they are thinking about changing the curriculum while 18 percent said they do not plan to change their curriculum.
Jeff Thomas, the director of pre-law programs for Kaplan Test Prep, said, “With the supply of new lawyers outpacing the available number of positions for new lawyers, this is the most critical time for legal education in decades. Our survey shows that law schools are taking much-needed action to better prepare new lawyers for the changing job landscape, while at the same time accepting fewer students, as they know jobs will not be easy to come by”
The survey did provide some good news for prospective law students. Forty-seven percent of law schools have been able to increase the financial aid amount they provide to students for the 2012-2013 cycle. Forty-one percent of law schools said that they kept their financial aid levels the same as the 2011-2012 cycle.
According to Thomas, law schools use financial aid as a tool to get the best applicants to apply to their school and then enroll in their school. Even though there has been a decrease in law school applicants, competition for a lower number of coveted seats that come with financial aid could increase.
“You can’t think about going to law school without thinking about how to pay for it. The good news is that law schools still understand how important financial aid is for prospective students,” Thomas said. “It’s important to keep in mind that financial aid from law schools is almost always merit-based, not needs-based, so assembling a stellar application that includes a high LSAT score, strong GPA, well-written personal statement and compelling letters of recommendation is incredibly important. Now more than ever, being a highly competitive applicant may earn you great rewards.”