Law school applicants up slightly, but quality up significantly

Last year, I noted there was some premature celebration in some legal education circles as applicants to law schools were relatively unchanged. This, some thought, signified the "bottom" of the demand for legal education. But I explained that despite relatively flat demand, the quality of applicants had declined significantly. A chart visualizing the year-end data shared by LSAC is here (which updates a version of the chart I had in that post, late in the applicant cycle).

As you can see, the applicant pool may have been relatively flat, but the quality declined significantly as applicants with high LSAT scores declined at a high rate, but those with low predictors increased somewhat.

This year, we saw some uptick in LSAT test-takers, and I wondered what it might ultimately mean. Again, caution is appropriate for such data--raw LSAT test-takers alone, for instance, do not reflect the quality of the applicant pool.

LSAC discloses that applicants are up about 0.6% as of November 27, 2015. And, as of this time last year, we had about 25% of the law school applicant pool. Limited data, to be sure. But we can see a fairly dramatic change in the quality of the applicant pool, at least year-to-date.

Whether these trends hold steady is, of course, the most uncertain element of this process. But so far this cycle, it's not simply the marginal uptick in applicants; it's a pretty sizeable improvement in that cohort's predictors.