Nationwide law school applications down, statistics show
Applications and admittance to law schools around the country are on a downward slope, according to a recent national survey of law school admissions officers by Kaplan Test Prep.
In some ways that’s good, MSU officials said.
The number of applications throughout the U.S. has declined about 36 percent since 2010, according to the Law School Admission Council, or LSAC — meaning fewer people are applying, and they are sending out fewer applications.
“We think it’s good that they are sending out less applications … They’re giving more consideration to which ones to apply to … and being more careful — that’s good news,” said Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs at Kaplan Test Prep.
About 360 current or former MSU students applied to law schools around the country during the 2011-12 cycle. In 2007-08, there were 514, according to LSAC.
MSU College of Law 2013 Incoming Class Stats
80 U.S. News & World Report Rank in 2013
2,997 Application Volume (number of applicants)
45 percent Selectivity
51 percent of In-State applicants admitted
43 percent of females applicants admitted
22 percent of minority applicants admitted
Source: Midwest Alliance for Law School Admissions – August 2013 Incoming Class Survey
Students who applied from MSU might have graduated that year, or might not have graduated that year, according to data.
Contrary to the national trend, the MSU College of Law’s applicant pool — or the number of people that applied for admission — continued to increase until 2012, but it dropped off this year to 14 percent less than what it was in 2010 and 22 percent less than the 2012 peak.
“The Law College has gone through a period of growth and expansion, in addition to rising in the U.S. News ranking,” said Charles Roboski, assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at MSU College of Law.
But the fact remains that applications have declined, and Roboski said he expects another decline next year — as do 67 percent of his national colleagues, according to Kaplan.
One explanation for the decline is that law school applications tend to correlate inversely to economy — when the economy is up, applications are down, Thomas said. When the economy tanked in 2008, the number of applicants began to increase.
Now those people are graduating and there is an oversupply of lawyers in the market, which is driving down the starting pay and making prospective law school applicants think more carefully about whether it’s worth it to attend, he said.
“Law school is not a sure-fire ticket to a good job anymore,” Thomas said.
The Kaplan survey showed 54 percent of law schools cut their entering class this year and 25 percent plan to do so again next year.
MSU has cut its entering class by 11 percent since 2011 — a small amount compared to some peer schools like the University of Iowa, which has cut by 48 percent in the same amount of time.
“How (those law schools) do that financially, I don’t know,” Roboski said of law schools who admit fewer students.
The MSU College of Law has handled its loss of tuition dollars from potential students by not hiring replacements when some faculty retire, he said.