Here are some highlights from Kaplan Test Prep’s 2015 survey of law school admissions officers:
120 of the 205 American Bar Association-accredited law schools (including 17 of the top 30 U.S. News law schools) were polled between August and September 2015.
• 88% of law school admissions officers predict that there will be a spike in application volume in 2015-2016.
• Last year (2014), 46% had predicted an increase in applications, but the 2014 entering law school class was actually the smallest in 40 years.
• The number of LSAT test takers has increased for three consecutive test administrations, December 2014, February 2015, and June 2015.
• 35% of law schools reduced their first-year class size in 2015, compared to last year’s 54%.
• 87% of admissions officers predict that at least one law school will close in the next few years “due to financial insolvability.”
According to Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs at Kaplan Test Prep, “The job market continues to be competitive for new law school graduates, which no doubt weighs heavily on the minds of prospective applicants, so any turnaround will likely be slow to build.”
Stephen Brown, Fordham University School of Law’s Assistant Dean of Enrollment adds, “We are hearing from students who have put off applying to law school for a few years, so applicants are a bit older and seem to have fully investigated the pros and cons of law school and legal careers.”
Dean Brown’s comments are also good advice. Law school applicants should thoroughly investigate the field –the work lawyers really and truly do and their job prospects upon graduation — before applying to make sure law school provides them with the education they need for the career they want.
There were decades when law school was thought to be good preparation for “a career.” That career frequently was ill-defined and generally thought to be something that people coming from a liberal arts background would enjoy.
The truth is that law school prepares people to be lawyers. Period. It may teach skills that are valuable in business or other fields, but it prepares people to be lawyers.
Since many went to law school for the wrong reasons, a significant percentage of new lawyers found they did not enjoy the practice of law. Yet, since law school is expensive and new grads had massive loans to pay back, they found they had to practice law. This situation led to very unhappy lawyers.
Once the legal job market imploded in the wake of the Great Recession, there were not only unhappy new law school grads, there were unhappy, under-employed or unemployed law school grads laden with debt screaming foul because they felt they had been misled and sold a bill of goods.
Don’t be one of them. Be one of the ones that Dean Brown is referring to. Do your research. A legal education and career can be a wonderful option for those who know what it is and want it.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.