Applications to American law schools have declined almost 10 percent to a total of just over 60,000 from 66,000 a year before, according to the Law School Admission Council.
Though other schools have reported consistent declines in the number of applicants over the years, Harvard Law School (HLS) has seen its pool stabilize after falling 3.5 percent last year. Though applications fell to 7,127 from 7,386 in the 2004-2005 cycle, officials claim that there has been no change this time around.
“Applications are still coming in,” HLS Director of Communications Michael A. Armini wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson yesterday. “We’re not seeing anything significantly different from last year.”
Tobias S. Loss-Eaton, an aide in the HLS admissions office, echoed Armini, saying that since applications are still being accepted, the total number of applications this year is still unknown.
Admissions numbers are based on the amount of applications received prior to the Feb. 3 deadline, though most law schools will continue to accept applications for another month. Last year, for example, American law schools received a total of 95,800, nearly one third of which were submitted after the deadline.
Though the exact reason for the shrinking applicant pools of recent years is impossible to pinpoint, admissions experts cite an improved general job market, rising law school tuition, increasingly competitive admission rates, and a return to more typical numbers of applicants after large increases in the preceding years.
Some have said that the decrease in applicants could simply reflect a change in career preferences and that the prominence of lawyers in popular culture has accounted for much of the increase in the past.
“The more lawyers there are, the more people are out there to encourage others not to go to law school,” David E. Kelly, the producer of several law-related television shows, told The New York Times. “I personally have a very glamorous view of the law. But maybe that’s because I’m out of it, and I get to write about what I would like the practice of law to be.”
In the 2004-2005 cycle, the top five law schools, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, all witnessed some decline in applicants. New York University School of Law, which experienced the largest decline, saw its total pool ebb by 4.3 percent, while Yale Law School took in just five fewer applicants, a decline of 0.2 percent. Nationwide, law school applicants fell by 4.6 percent in that cycle.
The Law School Admission Council, a trade group that comprises 202 law schools in the U.S. and Canada, is best known for administering the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT.
—Staff writer Paras D. Bhayani can be reached at email@example.com