The last eight years have been a rocky road for most industries in the United States — the legal one included. The influx of LSAT takers around 2009, and thus the volume of applicants, led to a massive disproportioned field of both studying and available lawyers and available jobs. Since the Great Recession, the patterned numbers of LSAT takers has gone up and down, but never steadily increased until this past year. A new projection changes the tides on these figures, and points to a new chapter for burgeoning lawyers in the U.S.
The Kaplan Test Prep’s 2015 survey of admissions officers at 120 law schools across the United States found that nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) of law school admissions officers predict that they are going to see an increase in applications, and they are confident that their law schools will see a spike for the 2015-2016 application cycle, compared to the previous cycle. 2014’s entering law school class was the smallest one in 40 years, so this is a stark departure. Indeed, the Kaplan 2014 survey found only 46 percent expressing confidence that their law schools would see an increase in applications.
Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs for Kaplan Test Prep said: “Something feels different about this application cycle to law school admissions officers, and those sentiments are backed up by some key data points regarding the number of LSAT takers. The job market continues to be competitive for new law school graduates, which no doubt weighs heavily on the minds of prospective applicants, so any turnaround will likely be slow to build.”
More data shows that this dramatic optimism isn’t totally unfounded; those numbers of LSAT takers Thomas mentions are supported by the Law School Admission Council, the organization that writes the LSAT. It reported that for three consecutive administrations of the LSAT — December 2014, February 2015, and June 2015 — the number of LSAT takers increased compared to the previous year. The last time this pattern occurred was 2009-2010.
Sources also mentioned that applicants are tending to be slightly older than freshly graduated undergraduates as the Recession also caused potential students to evaluate their options more in full before taking the financial plunge into law school.
Despite these projections for the next year, Kaplan found that 87 percent of law school admissions officers predict that at least one law school will shut down over the next few years because of the financial hard times that had befallen the institutions and slumping applications.