Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Law Schools Show Continued Optimism, but Fragile Recovery Leads Most to Favor the Closure of Existing JD Programs and Limiting New Ones
Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC)
New York, NY (October 6, 2016) – This past admissions cycle, the legal education community saw something they haven’t seen since 2009: an increase in the number of law school applications and LSAT® takers. This momentum is reflected in continued optimism that Kaplan Test Prep finds in its 2016 survey of law school admissions officers.* Of the 111 law schools from around country that participated in the annual survey, 92 percent say that they are feeling “more optimistic about the state of legal education” than they did one year ago. That optimism leads 78 percent of respondents to express confidence that their law school will see another increase in applications for the 2016-2017 application cycle — a far cry from the 46% who expressed such confidence, when Kaplan conducted its 2014 survey.
But perhaps still wary from a multi-year application slump and the continued tight job market for law school graduates, America’s law schools want to tread carefully. Nearly two-thirds of law schools (65 percent) agree that it “would be a good idea if at least a few law schools closed.” Additionally, 52 percent support a recent recommendation by the National Advisory Council on Institutional Quality and Integrity to the U.S. Department of Education, which was ultimately rejected, that the American Bar Association be stripped of its ability to accredit new law schools for a period of one year.
“Law schools are in the midst of what we might call a fragile application and financial recovery. We see cautious optimism, but by no means are they roaring back to life, so opening additional law schools could set things back by contributing to a job market saturated with too many lawyers looking for a limited number of jobs,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “The good news for pre-law students is that the data shows that the worst of the law school application crunch and job crisis is likely over, but we encourage aspiring attorneys to be thoughtful about what they want from law school and what that want to do with their degree.”
Kaplan’s survey also found that just 24 percent of law schools cut the number of seats for their 2016 class of first-year students, lower than the 35 percent who reported doing so for the 2015 class of 1Ls and and the 54 percent who did for the 2014 class.
“It is exciting to see increasing interest in attending law school,” said Robert Schwartz, assistant dean of admissions at UCLA School of Law. “With the job market for lawyers improving, it’s entirely plausible that we will continue to see another increase in applications this year. In the meantime, it remains imperative for law schools to keep innovating and keep tuition in check to help make law school a more attractive place for would be professionals.” Schwartz noted that UCLA Law froze tuition for the class of 2019.
“Law school is, and has been, an investment,” added Stephen Brown, assistant dean, Fordham University School of Law. “The happiest and most successful law students are the ones who come to school with a reasonable goal, a plan to achieve it – and passion.”
* For the 2016 survey, 111 of the 205 American Bar Association-accredited law schools were polled by telephone between August and September 2016. Included among the 111 are 12 of the top 25 law schools, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
LSAT® is a registered trademark of the Law School Admission Council, which neither sponsors nor endorses this product.
About Kaplan Test Prep
Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.
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