The Legal Market May Be Turning Around
Klint W. Alexander, Ph.D., J.D.
In the early weeks of 2016, the economy has been rocked by a number of unsettling trends, including a major decline in the U.S. stock market, tumbling oil and gas prices, and a downturn in the Chinese economy. However, one positive development occurring alongside of these trends is the uptick in law school applicants this year, especially in the Mountain West region.
As the 2015-2016 admissions cycle approaches the midway point, statistics show that the number of LSAT takers and law school applicants nationwide is on the rise (2.0%), but that the number of law school applications is slightly down (-0.3%). In other words, more people are applying to law school this year, but to fewer places. This is a significant change from the 2014-2015 academic year, wherein law school applications were down 8%, and have fallen 37% since 2010.
The increase in applicants suggests a few things for prospective law school applicants and future lawyers. First, more applicants means more competition for both admissions and scholarships. Whereas in recent years, law schools have had to work harder to recruit top students, this year's applicants will have to work a little harder to sell themselves to law schools. And even if they are admitted to the law school of their choice, there is going to be fierce competition for scholarships. This, in turn, means that law school applicants with fewer scholarship offers will be more focused on cost and affordability than in recent years.
Second, more applicants, but slightly fewer applications, means that law school applicants are becoming more selective about the law schools they wish to attend rather than throwing in multiple applications to a variety of places to see what sticks. This more targeted approach by applicants is a direct result of having access to better information on-line about law schools, which enables students to study closely the strengths and...