HEADING TOWARDS 2020: THE COLLEGE OF LAW'S CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY
Klint W. Alexander, Ph.D. J.D., University of Wyoming College of Law Laramie, Wyoming
As we approach the year 2020—the Centennial Anniversary of the College of Law—I am pleased to report that the College had an outstanding 99th year in terms of student and faculty recruitment and national rankings and recognitions. With the modest uptick in law school applications nationwide during the past two years, law school administrators have been focused on increasing enrollment and faculty hiring following a decade-long downturn in the legal education market.
At Wyoming, this year's incoming law class (the Class of 2022) is outstanding, consisting of 74 students from diverse backgrounds and places within the state and beyond. The demographic make-up of the group consists of 54% Wyoming residents, 46% women and 19% from underrepresented groups. Among them are writers, engineers, physicians, business owners, ranchers, police officers, volunteer firemen, former collegiate athletes, members of the armed forces, and, of course, moms and dads.
A major factor contributing to the increase in law school applications is stronger employment data. In a relatively stable marketplace, students are willing to take on the debt loads incurred in law school to obtain more gainful employment down the road. In 2019, a much smaller graduating class entered the job market, thus the percentage of new hires was up, even if the total number of law jobs remained flat. Prospectively, economists are predicting a downturn in the market soon given historical patterns, which will in turn incentivize more people to return to graduate programs, including law school. But this is more likely to affect the 2020-2021 admissions cycle rather than this coming cycle.
Another factor contributing to the uptick in law applications is the availability of more testing options for law applicants. Back in the old days, applicants could only take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) once a quarter during the application cycle. Today, they can take the LSAT...