We’ve been following the decline in law school applications as prospective law students figure out that the pot of gold at the end of the law school rainbow isn’t available for everybody.

Today, we have a look at new numbers that show an even more precipitous drop in applications for the class of 2016 than many had expected. So far, applications are down 20 percent from where they were in 2012. Law school applications are down 38 percent from where they were in 2010.

If you’ve been wondering why we’ve seen this proliferation of law school deans and professors making spurious arguments in favor of going to law school, this is why.

But maybe instead of trying to win the media battle, these numbers will inspire some in legal academia to address the underlying problems with legal education. Because trying to argue the problem away with nonsensical op-eds doesn’t seem to be working out….

While there is still a little bit of time for a late rally, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) reports that applications will drop below 60,000 submissions for the first time since 1983, when they started keeping records.

The National Law Journal reports that 82 schools had a drop of more than 30 percent in applications. Is it time to start asking how long some of those schools can survive?

If you ask me, these kinds of drops in law school applications are not a bad thing. They show that prospective students are becoming educated about the realities of the legal job market. Law school tuition remains high and totally out of whack with the market realities for recent graduates. Law schools have benefited for years from misinformation they fed to prospective students. Now that students have a more transparent look at the truth, the market is reacting properly.

Of course, I’m not a law school dean with my job on the line.

But if you are a law school dean who is worried about these numbers, maybe you will consider doing something to respond to the market instead of making another futile argument, pissing in the ear of some prospective law students and telling them that it’s raining. It’s pretty clear that would-be lawyers are figuring out that at some schools, the cost of education is too high given the current job market.

If you are one of the 82 schools that is looking at a 30 percent drop in applications, might I suggest lowering tuition. I’m not talking about the “stealth cuts” that you are trying to make by offering people a full scholarship if they have an LSAT score that’s good enough to get them into a much better school. I’m talking about an actual, honest, tuition drop.

Listen to the free market, where consumers now have accurate information, and react accordingly.

Avoiding Law School in Droves [National Law Journal]


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