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ABA Releases Data for First-Year Enrollment at Law Schools

In a press release from the American Bar Association posted on ABA Now, data about first-year enrollments at American Bar Association approved schools shows that 44,481 full-time and part-time students started their law school careers in the fall of 2012. Those numbers are a decrease of 4,216 from the fall of 2011. The numbers also come in roughly 15 percent under the first-level enrollment numbers of 52,488 in the fall of 2010, which was an all-time high.

Schools accredited by the American Bar Association have to submit questionnaires to the ABA each year, which is where the numbers come from. The questionnaires are submitted to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

From the data, three-fourths of the 201 approved law schools saw a decline in their first-year enrollment. Compared to 2011, 90 law schools reported first-year enrollment declines of 10 percent or more. Less than 10 law schools had an increase of 10 percent or more in their first-year enrollment numbers.

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In the press release, the chair of the legal education section and the dean at Washington University School of Law, Kent Syverud, said: “Over the past year, the section has worked hard to improve its method of collecting and monitoring the data it needs to properly accredit law schools. This effort includes, among other things, a substantial focus on admissions, bar passage, enrollment and job-placement data so that the ABA has a capacity to identify and intervene earlier where the data indicates a problem at a school.”

From the press release:

ABA Section of Legal Education Preliminary Fall 2012 First-Year Law School Enrollment Data

  1. Total 1L enrollment (full-time and part-time)   44,481
  2. Changes in 1L enrollment, 2011 – 2012
    • Schools showing increase: 48
    • Schools showing no change: 4
    • Schools showing decrease: 149
  3. Schools with 1L enrollments within +/- 5 students from previous year: 39
  4. Schools showing 10 percent or more increase from previous year: 8
  5. Schools showing 10 percent or more decrease from previous year: 90
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