29 Nov 2012

Dramatic fall in US law school enrolment

Law school enrolment in the US has plummeted by 15 per cent since 2010 and 9 per cent since last year, according to recent figures from the American Bar Association (ABA).

Law students: numbers falling

The ABA typically releases enrolment figures in the spring, but chose to publish the current crop of numbers early owing to increased interest, according to the National Law Journal. Consultants for the ABA warned that the final results could change.

Inflating scores

According to the survey, first year enrolment dropped by 3,751 students in 2011, and by a further 4,216 this year. The ABA is currently analysing data on law school admission test scores and grade point averages, figures released by law schools for the first time this year after it was discovered that two schools were inflating their scores to improve rankings.
‘Over the past year, the [ABA] has worked hard to improve its methods of collecting and monitoring the date it needs to properly accredit law schools,’ commented Kent Syverud, chairman of the ABA’s section of legal education and admissions to the bar. ‘This effort includes, among other things, a substantial focus on admissions, bar passage, enrolment and job placement data so that the ABA has a capacity to identify and intervene earlier when the data indicates a problem at a school.’

Graduate glut

Since the global financial crisis, US law schools have faced a barrage of criticism for admitting more students than the legal market could absorb, resulting in increasing numbers of graduates unable to find employment or to command competitive wages.
Kyle McEntee, executive director of Tennessee-based non-profit organisation Law School Transparency, told the Reuters news agency that lower enrolment demonstrates a 'pretty simple market correction...once the employment data started getting out there, you started seeing the crash in applications but also in enrolment.'