A couple of months back, Jordan Weissmann of Slate and our own Joe Patrice got into an entertaining little dust-up over Weissmann’s assertion that “Now Is A Great Time To Apply To Law School.” The various arguments ranged over — among other things — the available data from the ABA and the BLS, the scholarship of Michael Simkovic and Brian Tamanaha, and the impenetrable mystery that is the “JD Advantage.” We’ll let readers determine who got the best of the debate. (Hint: Joe did.) But as pundits squabble over the value of a JD or the wisdom of the applying to law school in 2014, what are current would-be law students themselves thinking?
Recently, in collaboration with our friends at Blueprint Test Prep, we conducted a survey of 400 Blueprint students studying for the October 2014 LSAT. (We conducted an earlier, different 0L survey in conjunction with Blueprint back in 2012.) Our goal was to get a snapshot of these 0L’s perceptions of the legal education landscape: will it be harder or easier to get admitted? What are the most important factors in choosing a law school? What are law school admission officers looking for? What are employers really interested in?
Read on to see what we could glean from the 0L mind, including their thoughts on why fewer people are taking the LSAT and applying to law school, even as some — à la Weissmann — predict the demand for lawyers will outstrip supply the supply of law school graduates in 2016.
Statistically speaking, people who are currently in law school scored more poorly on the LSAT than the classes that came before. That doesn’t mean they are dumber — and I doubt any law school professor has the stones to do a study on whether or not the students are dumber now than they were before the recession. But it might mean that the current crop of law students were less prepared to enter law school than earlier classes.
We’ve documented the “brain drain” from the law school applicant pool. In 2012, by which point the idiocy of going to law school was plain to see by any who were watching, the number of students applying to law school with an LSAT score over 170 was down over 20%. Meanwhile, the number of applicants with LSAT scores in the 140- 144 range was only down 6.2%. High scorers were taking a pass while low scorers were saying “wow, I wonder who left this fruit here hanging so low to the ground.”
But now, it appears that trend is reversing. That’s probably bad news for the worst law schools…
Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ann K. Levine, a law school admission consultant and owner of LawSchoolExpert.com, offers helpful tips on proper decorum for recruiting events.
‘Tis the season for LSAC Recruitment Forums and on-campus law school fairs. These are great opportunities for law schools to recruit applicants, but they can also be great opportunities for law school applicants to get a jump up on the competition. Here are some things you can do when interacting with law schools at recruiting events:
1. Do your research ahead of time. Know which schools you hope to target and have specific questions ready. Great questions include how to arrange a campus visit, how many students specialize in an area that you are interested in (some interest/faculty support is good, too much competition is not so good), the attrition rate (how many people transfer versus stay at the school after the first year), and other information that you may not be able to find so easily on the school website. Stay away from things that should be obvious from the website like median LSAT scores, etc.
If you’re still searching for a law school to call your home for the next three years, then it would be wise to try to get one where you’ll be surrounded by the best of the best, academically speaking. If possible, you’ll want to attend a law school that’s located at the tippy top of the U.S. News law school rankings — one where those applying have high GPAs and even higher LSAT scores.
For those new to the law school game, the schools with the very best applicants are generally located in the Top 14 of the U.S. News rankings (and in the Above the Law rankings, too).
But which of those schools has the highest median LSAT scores? As it turns out, U.S. News has a handy dandy list, but not all law schools in the T14 are on this list. Why? Let’s check it out…
* From Big Government to Biglaw: Our congratulations go out to Benjamin Horwich, most recently of the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, as he joins Munger Tolles & Olson as counsel. Nice work. [Munger Tolles & Olson]
* The number of law school applicants took a nose dive for the fourth year in a row, this time by 8 percent, summarily crushing the hopes and dreams of law deans praying for a change of their otherwise most dismal fortunes. [National Law Journal]
* Considering the latest slump in applicants, whether a law school evaluates your average LSAT score or highest LSAT score matters little. Admissions officers will jump for joy that you have a pulse. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* “You don’t have to convict on every count to have a win.” Azamat Tazhayakov, friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was convicted of obstruction and conspiracy to obstruct justice. [Bloomberg]
* Per documents filed by a lawyer appointed to represent Philip Seymour Hoffman’s children, the actor didn’t set aside money for them because he didn’t want them to become “trust fund kids.” [New York Post]
* NO, NO, NO, NOTORIOUS! Previously unpublished documents from the Clinton White House have been released, and it looks like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was criticized for her “laconic” nature. Not cool, Bill. [Legal Times]
* Document review jobs aren’t going anywhere, folks. Exhibit A: Winston & Strawn’s e-discovery practice is bringing in the big bucks, earning the firm more than $20 million in revenue last year. [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* More lawyers are being treated for substance abuse for drugs and alcohol than ever before. In fact, a founding partner of Farella Braun + Martel, one of California’s largest firms, was once a “functioning alcoholic.” [Am Law Daily]
* A Florida jury apparently set on “sending a message” to tobacco companies awarded $23.6 billion in punitive damages to a chain smoker’s widow against RJ Reynolds. That was a costly message. [Reuters]
* June 2014 marked the fewest people who sat for the LSAT in 14 years, but it may get even lower if a new ABA proposal which would allow the test to be waived for 10% of students passes. [Central Florida Future]
Taking the LSAT has apparently gone out of style. LSAC just released the numbers from the June 2014 LSAT, and only 21,802 law school hopefuls took the test. That’s down 9.1% from June of last year, and down 33.9% from the June LSAT’s peak in 2010. The last time so few took the June LSAT, Bill Clinton was president and Beyoncé was known primarily as a member of Destiny’s Child.
The continued decline in the number of LSAT takers is good news for aspiring lawyers as it’s likely that the number of law school applicants will similarly continue to decline. That, in turn, means less competition in law school admissions. Perhaps more importantly, there’s likely to be less competition for legal jobs in a few years, as that decline in law school applicants translates into fewer law school graduates.
There’s an outside chance that more people will read this post about the declining number of people taking the June LSAT than will actually sit for the June LSAT.
It’s trite and banal to say that “the media” or “the internet” is responsible for the declining number of people interested in law school. Law school deans want you to think that they are in some kind of losing battle with media sources. And sure, the fact that the “law school brochure” no longer stands unchallenged by “reputable media sources” has something to do with the fact that June LSAT takers are at a 14-year low. The truth is out there, and the ability of prospective law students — and their parents — to just Google “Suffolk Law School” lessens the effectiveness of your average subway advertisement.
But the internet isn’t responsible for people staying away from law schools. Law schools themselves are encouraging people to stay away in droves. They put up flashing “Don’t Come In Here” signs every time they unleash another disaffected class of graduates out onto the market…
Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, David Mainiero, Admissions Expert at InGenius Prep, examines major factors pre-law students should consider after taking the June LSAT.
You’ve finished the June LSAT… now what? In this blog series, I will help you navigate the perilous road to 1L.
First, decide whether (and why) you’re going to retake the LSAT in October.
Given that you just finished the LSAT, you’ve put at least three and a half hours of thought into one incredibly important component of the application. For your sake, we hope that wasn’t the extent of the thought you put into the LSAT.
Even in some cases where you have planned and studied appropriately, you might be considering re-taking the test. Or, if you aren’t reconsidering it yet, you might be when you get your score. There is nothing wrong with this. Tons of successful applicants to even the most selective law schools in the country take the LSAT multiple times; that’s not to say it’s encouraged, but it’s certainly not the end of the world. I myself took the LSAT three times.
There is plenty of generic advice out there about the circumstances under which you should retake the test, but ultimately it is a highly individualized decision. Nonetheless, here is some guidance on how to make this decision.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.