We are living in an exciting time for law students and pre-law students. As my long-time readers know, law school enrollment had been on a substantial decline from 2010-2015. Things have changed, however. The economy has been improving noticeably over the past couple years.
That economic improvement has impacted law school enrollment in a significant way. Beginning two years ago, we began seeing a mild increase in the number of people taking the LSAT, which tends to directly relate to future law school enrollment.
Recently, the mild increase in LSAT takers has suddenly turned much more dramatic. There was a whopping 27.9% increase between the number of students taking the December 2017 LSAT compared to December 2016. To provide some historical context, that 27.9% increase was the largest year-over-year increase in the last 30 years! You can see a historical chart of LSAT data here.
How should students currently attending law school or planning on going to law school interpret this information? Here are some of my thoughts:
- Overall, this is very good news. An improved economy and improved opportunities for lawyers is a great thing for prospective lawyers to hear.
- Because law school applications are increasing in a meaningful way, things are likely to get a little more competitive for current and future law school applicants.
- Having a strong law school application is even more important than ever. Do everything you can to improve your LSAT score, undergraduate gpa, and soft factors (e.g., your personal statement and letters of recommendation).
Finally, I will give you the exact same advice I gave several years ago when things looked much more bleak for current and future lawyers:
- Economies are cyclical. There will be good times and not-so-good times. The economy looks a lot better now, but you should expect ups and downs throughout your life.
- You shouldn’t avoid going to law school simply because the economy is weak. Conversely, you shouldn’t go to law school simply because the economy is strong.
- Instead, think about whether being a lawyer (or getting a law school degree and using it for some other purpose) is something that you want to do. That sounds like simple and obvious advice, but you’d be stunned by how many students don’t do it.
- If the idea of law school and being a lawyer excites you, and you have a realistic assessment of future job prospects, then going to law school is likely to be a good decision. And remember, no job or career is likely to be perfect – but if being a lawyer, overall, seems like a good fit for you, it probably will be.
- However, if the law isn’t your passion (e.g., you are thinking about going to law school solely because you are being pressured by your parents), you may not be happy with your decision.
For more details, or if you have any questions about the possible implication for lawyers of this meaningful change in the economy, please email me at email@example.com.