We’ve talked about how there’s been a general decrease in law school applications. I’d like to interpret that as a sign that people are being more prudent about making the investment in legal education, but the decline could also be an indicator of more general economic recovery in America.
Hey, if fewer people are applying to the disreputable law schools out there, that’s a good thing. But if fewer people are applying to the best law schools, then dear God, what’s the point?
One of the biggest drops in applications we’ve heard about comes not from some unranked law school, but at Yale Law School. That’s like saying, “I’m going to diet by replacing all my salads with junk food and bacon.”
Why are people staying away from Yale?
The Yale Daily News reports that applications are down 16.5% this year at YLS:
The drop in law school applications may be a result of recent media coverage of the bleak job market and crippling debt that await law school graduates today, said Wendy Margolis, Director of Communications for the Law School Admission Council, which administers the Law School Admissions Test.
The media frenzy peaked with a January New York Times article, “Is law school a losing game?,” which emphasized the growing unemployment rates among law school graduates. Kelly Voight, the executive director of Yale Law’s Career Development Office, told the News at the time that nearly all Yale Law graduates continue to find employment despite the weak economy.
The national average is an 11% drop, so Yale took a bigger hit. Maybe this is what happens when you get all of your news from the New York Times. The NYT says “stay away from law school,” and applications to Yale drop. But if you read Above the Law, you pick up nuances like “stay away from crappy law schools.” See how much more subtle and informative that is? I know, I know, it bothers me too when the print media sensationalizes things.
Of course, the MSM just recently found out that you could check out a dog from the Yale Law library, a story we flagged back in September (and again in March, over a week before the inevitable NYT piece). So you can’t really expect the MSM to be up on the realities on the ground at the best law school in the country.
Case in point: there actually might be a much more simple reason to explain why Yale applications are down. A tipster reports:
[T]he YLS application required this year, for the first time, a “Dean’s Certification” from an applicant’s former college(s)/grad school(s). In addition to the infamous 250-word essay, the Dean’s Cert might’ve been enough to deter otherwise would-be applicants.
Ah, now that’s an explanation that comports with what I’ve come to know about prospective law students. For many of them, it’s their first important professional decision; why would they put in the extra work required to apply to the very best law school? Paperwork? Bah. “I don’t want to do no paperwork, I want to be a lawyer.”
Look, I know it seems like I want there to be fewer law students by any means necessary. But really I just want people to be making intelligent decisions.
Not applying to Yale just because it requires more paperwork is not smart. But I suppose the kids not applying to Yale for that reason weren’t going to be Yale Law School material anyway.
Law school sees application fall [Yale Daily News]