Yesterday, news came out that the number of people taking the LSAT declined for the second year in a row. Sharply declined.

The LSAT Blog reports that administrations of the test are down 16% from last year. That’s the largest decrease ever. Moreover, in absolute numbers, administrations of the test are at their lowest numbers in a decade.

It took four years, but perhaps prospective law students are starting to get the message the law school is not a guarantee for a good job or financial security.

So what’s going to happen to the law schools that exist by the grace of the stupidity of prospective law students? Well, the New York Times is eager to start throwing dirt on the graves of the law schools at the bottom….

New York Times writer David Segal has been menacing law school deans for a little while now, and he’s not letting up with the news that LSAT applicants are declining. From his Times article:

For some law schools, the dwindling number of test-takers represents a serious long-term challenge.

“What I’d anticipate is that you’ll see the biggest falloff in applications in the bottom end of the law school food chain,” said Andrew Morriss of the University of Alabama School of Law. “Those schools are going to have significant difficulty because they are dependent on tuition to fund themselves and they’ll either have to cut class size to maintain standards, or accept students with lower credentials.”

If they take the second course, Mr. Morriss said, it would hurt the school three years later because there is a strong correlation between poor performance on the LSAT and poor performance on the bar exam. If students start failing the bar, then the prestige of the school will drop, which would mean lowering standards even more. “At that point,” Mr. Morriss said, “the school is risking a death spiral.”

Mmm… death spiral.

You know you are running a shady business if it suffers when your customers start making more intelligent decisions.

Unfortunately, what we’re still not seeing is pressure to make these law schools compete on costs. There are fewer people getting sucked into the law school racket to begin with, and that’s a good thing. But the ones that do take the LSAT still seem to be going to the highest U.S. News ranked school they can get into, regardless of cost. The price of law school still remains detached from the value of the education.

But this is a good start. Fewer applicants will put some pressure on law schools that shouldn’t be here, and discourage other universities from opening up a new one.

Fewer LSATs Administered in Over Ten Years [LSAT Blog]
For 2nd Year, a Sharp Drop in Law School Entrance Tests [New York Times]


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