Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Smallest Entering Law School Class (Average Per School) Since the 60's







Big Drop in Law School 
Enrollees

So the big story this week is the significant drop in enrollees in law school. In other postings here and here, I've tracked the drop in applicants and applications.

The ABA has finally released a report showing the drop in the number of applicants who actually enrolled in law school for the year beginning in Fall 2013.  The ABA explains that:  "The last time enrollment was so low was in 1975, when 39,038 students were enrolled. And, at the time, there were only 163 ABA-accredited schools."

By one blogger's calculation, enrollment (average per law school) has not been this low since the late 1960s.

And, with applications to law school expected to drop this year compared to last, we could expect further erosion of the number of law school enrollees for Fall 2014.

This new data allows us to better predict job equilibrium, which I have discussed here, here, and here.  It is good news for graduates and students who are looking for a job.

The chart, 1L Growth Rate, for the period 1948 to 2013, shows four periods in which law schools showed negative growth in law school enrollees:  about 1949 to 1952; about 1982 to 1986; about 1995 to 1997; and this last one beginning in 2011.  I say "about" because the chart is a little difficult to read when trying to pinpoint specific years.

I'm sure an economist could correlate these dips to changes in the economy.

I notice this.  The magnitude of the negative growth dip for the first and last periods is substantially greater than for the two intervening dips.  The graph suggests that unlike the second and third dips in enrollment, the most recent dip is deeper and potentially longer lasting.

Dec. 27, 2013 Update:  One blogger, Matt Leichter, of the Law School Tuition Bubble blog,  has continued to work with the numbers and published a story in the AmLaw Daily here.

Dec. 28, 2013 Update:  The National Jurist covered the story here.

Oct. 26, 2014 Update:  Analogy to dental school experience in the 1980s  Ongoing decline in applicants expected.

Oct. 26, 2014 Update:  Fewer LSAT takers for Sept/Oct. 2014 test probably means fewer applicants to law school.

Nov. 1, Update:  More on the dental school analogy.

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