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April 8, 2012

Law School Applicant Numbers / Applications in Steep Decline

LSAT Blog Steep Decline in Law School Applicant Numbers, Applications

For updates, see my series of posts on recent trends in law school admissions.


The Law School Admission Council's latest numbers indicate that law school applicants and applications for this past cycle have dropped precipitously compared to the previous cycle.

Applicant numbers are down 15.6%, and applications submitted are down 13.6%, according to data submitted through 3/30/12.

(LSAC states, "Last year at this time, we had 91% of the preliminary final applicant count." As such, we can project that this cycle will have ~66,696 applicants.)

Combined with the decline in law school applicant and application numbers in the previous cycle, there's been a major drop-off over the past 2 years.

The cycle for Fall 2011 matriculation saw a 10.7% decrease in the number of applicants, and an 11% decrease in the number of applications submitted, from the previous year.

The new numbers are no surprise, given the steep decline in LSATs administered over the past 2 years (NYTimes, Above the Law, ABA Journal). LSATs administered fell 16.2% this past year, and that was after a 9.6% decline in LSATs administered in the previous year.

In short, we've already seen nearly a 25% decrease in the number of LSATs administered over the past 2 years.

Now, we're likely seeing a 24.1% drop in the number of law school applicants and 19.6% decrease in the number of law school applications submitted over the past 2 years.

Update #1Will Law Schools' Scramble for Applicants / Rankings Turn Even Uglier?

Update #2: Chart showing declining number of law school applicants:

LSAT Blog Law Schools Applicants Rankings Scramble


For further reading, see my series of posts on recent trends in law school admissions.

Photo by thetruthabout


  1. This is good news.

  2. this is great news, considering a lot of people should not be going to law school in the first place.

  3. it's because the LSAT is killing off many talented people. How 1 fricking test can be so crucial to get into law school is absolutely asinine!

  4. This is very interesting. However, as an applicant for this cycle, it does not seem to me that admissions decisions have been affected much as of yet. Many (including myself) had hoped that the decrease in applicants would result in more of us getting into reach schools.

    Does anyone think that we should still expect to see this affect admissions decisions? If so, at what schools, and when?

    1. I believe that, yes, it will affect admissions decisions at all law schools (to varying degrees, of course). The degree of the impact will be based upon the extent to which each law school decides to shrink class sizes to reduce impact on LSAT/GPA medians.

      See Will Law Schools Have To Admit Almost Every Applicant for more on this.

  5. Is the thought that this trend will continue on for 2013 applicants as well?

    1. I think it'll be quite some time before we see applicant numbers in the 80,000-90,000 range. Whether numbers fall further, stabilize, or increase (in moderation) for 2013 applicants will depend upon the economy, legal market, publicity related to the legal market, etc.

    2. Software and websites have automated a lot of legal work. Only time will tell whether or not this trend continues. However, I am given to believe that the algorithmic applications used to derive these automated processes are only getting better and as such, we will see a decline in the demand for lawyers. We are seeing the beginning of a correction and a new equilibrium is on the horizon.