Wednesday, November 6, 2013

MAPLA Conference: LSAC Applicant/Applications Data by Geographic Region
















LSAC Applicant/Applications Data by Geographic Region
--Fall 2012 to Fall 2013 --

As I mentioned in my last posting, Joan Van Tol, General Counsel for the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), gave a presentation at the conference of the Midwest Association of Pre-law Advisors (MAPLA) about trends in law school applications.  I described the LSAC data on the historic cycles in applications here.

I discussed the conference generally here.

Today, I'll describe the LSAC data presented on two maps of the U.S. divided into ten regions:
  • Where are ABA Law School Applicants Coming From?  YTD Change Fall 2012 to Fall 2013; and,
  • Where are ABA Law School Applications Going To?  Percent Change Fall 2012 to Fall 2013.
LSAC Geographic Regions for Reporting:

The ten LSAC regions are:
  • New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island);
  • Northeast (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania);
  • Midsouth (Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina);
  • Southeast (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida);
  • Great Lakes (Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio);
  • Midwest (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri);
  • South Central (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas);
  • Mountain West (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona);
  • Far West (Nevada and California); and
  • Northwest (Alaska, Washington, and Oregon).
National Averages

Next, the national averages for each map:
  • Where are ABA Law School Applicants Coming From?
    • YTD Change Fall 2012 to Fall 2013:
      • National Volume:  56,631
      • Percent change: -12.6 percent from the prior admissions year
  • Where are ABA Law School Applications Going To?
    • Percent Change Fall 2012 to Fall 2013:
      • Total Volume:  385,358 applications
      • Percent change: -17.9 percent from the prior admissions year
The drop of 17.9 percent in the national volume of applications in 2012-13 comes on top of two consecutive drops of -10.9 percent in 2010-11 and of -12.5 percent in 2011-12, for a total drop in applications over three admission cycles of 41.3 percent.

By volume:

2009-10:  602,300 applications
2010-11:  536,500 applications
2011-12:  469,500 applications
2012-13:  385,400 applications

LSAC calls these numbers "preliminary End-of-Year values measured through 08/08/13."

The trend in first-year enrollments for the same time period is:

2009-10:  52,500 enrollees
2010-11:  48,700 enrollees; -7.2%
2011-12:  44,500 enrolless; -8.7%
2012-13:  not provided

Thus, first-year enrollments fell 15.9 percent from 2009-10.

In his presentation to the MAPLA conference attendees, Washington University School of Law Dean, Kent Syverud, identified a 25 percent drop in enrollment (he must have data for the 2012-13 admissions year). The size of that decline suggests that one-quarter of, or 50, ABA-approved schools would need to close to get the supply-demand balance back to pre-recession levels.  But, unlike what many scambloggers have been saying, the pain is not felt only by so-called "marginal schools" (which we call access schools).  Instead, schools at all levels of the rankings are feeling the pinch (if not the punch).  Dean Syverud said that even top schools were seeing steep declines in applications.

For example, during a MAPLA-sponsored tour of the new $30 million law school building now housing the St. Louis University School of Law, the student guide mentioned that first-year enrollment at that school had dropped significantly.  If I recall the conversation correctly, the school wanted an entering class of about 295 and got 129 students.  (If I have misstated this data, I apologize in advance.)  

Dean Syverud said that 175 of 202 law schools (ABA-approved?) are operating at a deficit, with revenue declines of about 30 percent.    

Where are ABA Law School Applicants Coming From? 

The first LSAC map apparently indicates the change during the last admissions cycle of the source of law school applicants by geographic region.  The data comes in two forms: Number of applicants and percent decline from last year  -- and every region saw a decline.
  • New England:  2,780 applicants; -11.9%
  • Northeast: 9,130 applicants; -15.2%
  • Midsouth:  7,199 applicants; -13.7%
  • Southeast: 9,272 applicants, -8.5%
  • Great Lakes: 7,665 applicants; -14.8%
  • Midwest: 2,034 applicants; -10.3%
  • South Central: 6,150 applicants; -12.0%
  • Mountain West: 3,098 applicants; -13.1%
  • Far West: 7,830 applicants; -10.7%
  • Northwest.: 1,473 applicants; -19.8%
This map suggests that schools located in geographic regions seeing the biggest downturn in the number of applicants will begin recruiting further afield.

Where are ABA Law School Applications Going To? 

This map apparently reflects data on where, by geographic region, the 56,631 applicants submitted their 385,358 applications.  The data on this map comes in two forms: Number of applications and percent decline from last year  -- and every region saw a decline.
  • New England:  31,378 applications; -15.0%
  • Northeast: 64,939 applications; -20.8%
  • Midsouth:  73,129 applications; -15.8%
  • Southeast: 40,728 applications, -20.4%
  • Great Lakes: 57,842 applications; -20.3%
  • Midwest: 11,004 applications; -15.1%
  • South Central: 27, 539 applications; -15.3%
  • Mountain West: 11,812 applications; -20.0%
  • Far West: 57,718 applications; -16.2%
  • Northwest.: 9,269 applications; -14.9%
Can anyone suggest why applications dropped most in the Northeast, Southeast, Great Lakes, and Mountain West regions? The steep drop in BigLaw jobs would help explain the drop in applications in the Northeast.  Any other theories?

Nov. 18, 2013 Update:  In its online newsletter, the ABA reported that 80 to 85 percent of law schools were running at a deficit according to the research of one law scholar.  

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