This is an interesting time in the history of law school admissions to be considering taking the LSAT and applying to Law School. We talked about the decline in law school applications – projected to be about 20% less than last year’s applications, which in turn was down about 14% from the previous year; this news has made all the newspapers ranging from professional legal papers to the New York Times to small regional papers. Law Schools faced with a decline in admissions, and revenue, are looking to revamp their admissions criteria as well as the law school process.
One thing that is not changing is the test itself. At a recent Kaplan event several students voiced concerns that they would see a new test soon. To date, LSAC has not announced any changes to the test. When the comparative reading was introduced a few years back, advance notice and practice materials were provided. The logistical change to logic games, providing two pages rather than one, was done announced, but this was not a change to the test itself.
Several proposals have been announced by law schools and leading legal educators on how to deal with declining enrollment. For some law schools, this may mean offers to students with lower LSAT scores that previously accepted. About 4 schools, schools in the top ten, are seeing steady if not increasing numbers in applications and it is doubtful that they will change their admission criteria. For the vast majority of other schools, this may lead to a better chance of admissions for students who are not scoring in the top percentile. This has not been formally announced, and it is still the best practice to prep for the LSAT and aim for a great score!
Other alternatives that are being widely discussed include smaller classes, greater opportunities for paid, law-related internships and changing the number of years necessary to attend American law schools from three to two. Some have even proposed returning to an apprentice system which would allow students to work with an attorney and get “real life” practice that would allow admission to the bar. Schools are also taking into account the high debt that is incurred while attending law school and the decrease in jobs requiring a law degree and admission to the state bar, in addition to lower starting salaries.
Given the current state of law school admissions in the United States, it seems probable that changes will be coming. However, the legal profession being what it is, it is not likely that we will see these changes for the incoming 1L class this year. But who knows what might occur for the 2014 1L class – we will keep you posted!