(Wavebreak Media LTD)
The number of students heading into law schools in 2013 tumbled for the third straight year, according to data released by the American Bar Association. New student enrollment at all ABA-accredited law schools fell by 8 percent, meaning the number of 1Ls has declined by more than 24 percent since 2010.
But not all law schools have felt the same amount of pain. The ABA has released school-specific enrollment figures showing that 13 law schools saw 1L enrollment drop by 30 percent or more in the span of 12 months, while an additional 27 recorded declines of 20 to 30 percent. In all, 132 of the 199 ABA-accredited law schools saw declines in their 1L classes, while eight schools saw no change in new enrollment. Slightly more than a quarter of schools—62—actually posted 1L enrollment gains.
New England School of Law saw the largest decline at 47 percent, some of which dean John O’Brien attributed to a larger-than-normal 1L class the previous year.
Shrinking applicant pools have forced many law schools into a difficult choice: maintain their admissions standards and bring in a smaller 1L class, or relax standards to boost the number of incoming students. Some law schools have even had to cope both with smaller classes and lower Law School Admission Test scores and undergraduate grade-point averages, University of St. Thomas School of law professor Jerome Organ noted in a post on The Legal Whiteboard blog.
In the chart below, we highlight the 20 law schools that saw the largest percentage decline in their 1L class in 2013, and the 20 law schools that saw the biggest percentage increase. We’ve also indicated any change in each school’s median LSAT score, which sheds some light on how they balanced class size and admissions standards.
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