Kaplan Survey: Amid Years of Slumping Enrollment, Many Law Schools Are Predicting a Turnaround

Press Contacts: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter: @KapTesNews@KaplanLSATPrep

New York, NY (October 28, 2014) — There are signs of guarded optimism among leaders in the legal education community, according to Kaplan’s 2014 survey of law school admissions officers, amid generally gloomy statistics.* Almost half (46%) express confidence that their law school will see an increase in applications for the 2015-2016 application cycle, up from just 34% in 2013 who said the 2014-2015 cycle would see a spike in applications. Adding to the potential cause for optimism: for the first time since Kaplan began tracking the issue in 2012, the percentage of law schools that reported cutting the number of seats for their entering class dipped below 50% (47%). In 2013, this number was 54%, while in 2012 it was 51%. Additionally, the 2014 survey found that only 22% plan to cut next year.

Here’s the current lay of the land: according to the Law School Admission Council, the makers of the LSAT®, applications for the class that began law school this fall were down 8%, following two years of double-digit drops. Since 2010, there has been a 37% drop in applications. One legal education expert says that this year’s entering class might be only 38,000, the smallest group to enter American Bar Association-accredited law schools in 40 years.** According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of October 2014, the legal sector is about 46,000 jobs below pre-recession record levels set in 2007.

Robert Schwartz, dean of admissions at UCLA School of Law, noting the drop in the number of LSAT takers, says, “I expect we will see fewer applications to the nation’s law schools for the fall 2015 entering class. Here at UCLA though, we believe that curricular innovations, like our new clinical course on the lawyer-client relationship for first-year students and our plan to double our already extensive upper division clinical course offerings, will attract a robust pool of applicants.”

“Our survey finds that law schools continue to adapt to a challenging environment and are a little more optimistic than they were a year ago, but it’d be premature to celebrate. The tough job market for attorneys remains the primary cause for the continuing decline in law school applications. Until there’s a significant improvement in the employment outlook, it’s hard to imagine seeing a spike in law school applications and enrollment,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “That said, it’s important to note that contrary to what many pre-law students think, a drop in applications doesn’t mean easier admission into law school. Most competitive law schools won’t lower their standards and will continue to remain hard to get into. Competitive schools generally prefer to enroll fewer students over enrolling an increased number of less-qualified students.”

Kaplan Test Prep has been surveying law school admissions officers every year since 2006 to provide prospective students with the most accurate and up-to-date information on the admissions process, so they can make informed decisions about their education and career paths.

Law school admissions experts will discuss these results on Tuesday, October 28, at 8 PM ET, on The 180, Kaplan’s live, online talk show about legal issues. To attend, register at http://the180.com. To join in on the social media chat, use #Kaplan180.

* For the 2014 survey, 126 of the 204 American Bar Association-accredited law schools were polled by telephone between August and September 2014. Included among the 126 are 14 of the top 30 law schools, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

** The ABA Journal, “Law school applications down 37 percent since 2010; first-year class could be smallest in 40 years,” July 22, 2014. http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/law_school_applications_down_8_percent_new_lsac_survey_shows_theyve_dropped

LSAT® is a registered trademark of the Law School Admission Council, which neither sponsors nor endorses this product.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services. Additionally, Kaplan operates new economy skills training (NEST) bootcamps designed to provide immersive training in skills that are in high demand in today’s job market and prepare participants for hire.

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