JD enrollment for 2019 on pace for another modest increase but slight quality decline

For the lats year, LSAC has offered really useful tools for tracking the current status of JD applicants and LSAT test-takers. Data is updated daily and visualized cleanly.

We’re at a stage where we’d expect just about 80% of the applicant pool to be filled out, so it should be useful to see where things stand.

Applicants are up 3.1% year-over-year. Applicant increases don’t perfectly equate to increases in matriculants—last year, we saw an 8% applicant spike but a more modest 2.6% matriculant increase. But up is better than down, and we may see another modest increase in JD enrollment in 2019. We’ve seen modest increases the last several years—better for law schools than flat enrollment, but a continued reflection of a “new normal” in legal education.

A more disappointing development is that the quality of applicants has declined. Applicants with a 165 or higher LSAT score are down a few points. The bulk of increase in applicants comes from those scoring a 155-159. But then again, those with <140 LSAT scores are also in decline.

It remains to be seen how many would-be high-LSAT performers opted for the GRE in lieu of the LSAT, which may affect how LSAT scores are distributed among applicants. But it’s another reason to think that any increase in JD enrollment in 2019 will be lower than the increase in the size of the applicant pool—at least, if law schools seek to preserve the quality of their classes.