The number of LSAT-takers sitting for the most recent LSAT – June 2017 – increased a whopping 20% compared to June 2016, one year ago. That is a stunning increase, and the largest percentage increase for any test administration in over 15 years.
Normally, the number of people taking the LSAT correlates closely with the number of students applying to law school. Anecdotally, however, we haven’t heard that the number of law school applicants is increasing anywhere near that amount. So, what is the reason for the tremendous jump in the number of people taking the LSAT in June 2017?
Well, first a bit of history. We saw a huge spike, and the largest number of LSAT takers in modern history (i.e., over the past 30 years) during the 2009-2010 year. We were in the early years of the Great Recession at that time. Presumably, it made sense for people to consider going to law school and getting an advanced education during that time, since it was very hard to get a decent job.
Then reality set in. People had difficulty acquiring a job even with a law school degree, despite taking on a great deal of debt and spending 3+ years of their lives applying to and attending law school. Word got out, and a dramatic downturn in the number of people taking the LSAT and applying to law school followed.
Over a 5-year period, from 2010 to 2015, there was a 40% decrease in LSAT takers, down to a record low during the 2014-2015 year. In other words, we went from a record high number of LSAT takers to a record low within five years. Law school applications saw a similar downturn.
Well, like most things, law school applications are cyclical. We have been seeing a modest uptick in the number of LSAT takers over the past two years. It is hard to say whether the striking 20% increase we saw in June 2017 is a one-time aberration, or a trend suggesting that law school enrollment is going to start increasing significantly.
Time will tell, as they say. A consistently large increase in the number of LSAT-takers would suggest a significant spike in law school enrollment will follow. Either way, it does appear that LSAT-takers – and therefore, presumably, law school applicants – are increasing from the record-lows we saw a couple years ago.
You can see the complete chart of LSAT takers over the past 30 years here.