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In a matter of days, Emory University’s School of Law will get more than it bargained for. A lot more. That’s when about 65 extra mouths will slurp from its drinking fountains; 130 more shoes will climb its stairs; 650 more fingers will shove quarters into its snack machines; roughly 10,000 additional pounds of flesh will slump into its chairs. And 1.76 million more tuition dollars will pour into its coffers. Welcome, Class of 2005. According to Dean Thomas C. Arthur, Emory planned an entering class of 200 to 210 students for this fall. What it has so far is 269 lawyer hopefuls who’ve plunked down $750 in first and second deposits to guarantee places when orientation begins on Aug. 22. “This is sort of a good news-bad news thing, as you can imagine, when you’re a private school and you’re tuition-driven,” Arthur said. Of course, some prospective students may choose other schools at the last minute, either because they got in off a waiting list or paid second deposits at more than one place while they decided. Others may get cold feet and abandon their law school plans. Emory’s expected entering class has dwindled from a June headcount of 291; some potential students always pull out before registration. Arthur estimates losing just five or six more, now that orientation is so close. As for the other prospects, he said, “If they come, they’re like family in the Robert Frost poem. If they come, we gotta take ‘em in.” NOT JUST EMORY, NOT JUST GEORGIA Emory is not alone in opening its doors to more students than anticipated. Georgia State University College of Law may host 20 to 30 extra students; the first-year class at Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law likely will be oversubscribed by 15 to 20 students. Only the University of Georgia School of Law hit its target class size — and that was because officials, noting that more people took the LSAT last year, prepared for a rush on seats. Nationwide, according to data from the Law School Admission Council, the number of people applying to law school is up 17.5 percent from last year to 88,988. The number of applications — many people apply to more than one school — is up 26 percent, to 446,669. But the number of first-year seats at law schools around the country has remained steady the last five years, at about 45,000, according to Edward G. Haggerty Jr., LSAC’s Media Relations Specialist. “The bad state of the economy is … providing an incentive for people to sit out bad economic times in law school and obtain an excellent legal education rather than, you know, fight it out in the economy right now,” he said. The challenge is for law schools to estimate how many of their offers will be accepted, without dramatically overshooting or undershooting their optimum class size. GSU’s associate dean, Steven J. Kaminshine, said GSU got 1,000 more applications this year than last. As usual, his school estimated its class size by the number of students it admits and the number who pay deposits to hold their places. Both those numbers seemed on target to generate the school’s planned class size of 205 to 210. But more people said yes to GSU’s invitation. Usually, about 75 percent to 80 percent of those who are admitted and make deposits will come. This year, Kaminshine said, it is 85 percent to 87 percent. At latest count, the school had 233 students registered for the first day of class. Full-time in-staters will pay $3,696 per year; out-of-staters will pay $14,784. The school has added one more legal-writing instructor, and with two day sessions and one evening session for all classes, an extra 20 to 30 students distributed among them won’t increase class size that much, Kaminshine said. ‘DEANS LOVE IT’ At Mercer, Interim Dean Michael D. Sabbath also is preparing for more students. Applications were up 32 percent, and second deposits indicate an extra 15 to 20 students over the targeted class size of 140 to 145, he said. “Deans love it because it provides a little additional revenue,” said Sabbath. Mercer’s tuition is $22,313 a year. “The faculty doesn’t like it. … We’re committed to being a small school with small classes.” The school isn’t planning to add professors this year, because classes are already small enough that the additional students won’t cause a major shift in the student-faculty ratio, he said. Also, the school added a legal-writing instructor last year. Emory has taken more drastic measures because it is expecting more extra students. The school sent out letters asking students if they’d agree to defer coming for a year. James B. Hughes Jr., associate dean for academic affairs at Emory, said 14 students deferred, though he’s not sure how many would have done so without any prompt. The school expanded its first-year class sections from six to eight. This means that students will have one class — say, torts — plus legal writing with a small group of about 35 students. Emory also added two legal-writing instructors. Other first-year classes will host about 70 students. Arthur said he’s recruited professors to teach one more section than usual in exchange for more money now or a lighter classload later. He anticipates bringing on more visiting professors in the future. In addition to hiring expenses, Emory is $50,000 over budget on financial aid to students, Arthur said. Usually the school offers about $600,000 total; with the larger class, it’s $650,000. Still, he pointed out, the extra amount is covered by tuition from just two more full-freight students, each of whom will pay $27,000 a year. Among American Bar Association-accredited schools in Georgia, only UGA managed to hit its target class size. Dean David E. Shipley expected a class of 210 to start on the first day. Shipley said the admissions team noticed that the number of people who took the LSAT last year was way up. “We saw it coming, and so what we’ve done this year is I think we’ve been a little more selective,” he said. According to Shipley, the number of applications rose from 2,000 to 2,400. “The quality of the pool was up,” he said. “There are students with credentials who would have gotten in two years ago and didn’t this year.” As a result, the average LSAT score for the entering class of 2002 will be 163 — one point higher than last year. The average GPA will stay the same, at 3.67. Though his class-size numbers are on target, Shipley hasn’t relaxed his guard. “We monitor them daily,” he said. “We haven’t seen a year like this in a long time.”

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