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Law Schools Face Tougher Judgement Calls

Record-high increase in applications makes students nervous

With applications under review at law schools around the country, students are waiting anxiously to hear the results of what appears to be the toughest admissions cycle ever.

Mirroring a trend seen throughout graduate programs, applications at law schools are up across the country.

Indeed, data from the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) shows a 17 percent spike in applications this year.

“The October administration of the LSAT is the largest in our history, and last June’s test was the largest June test ever,” says Edward O. Haggerty Jr., an LSAC spokesperson.

The increase did not go unnoticed by House pre-law tutors.

“This is probably the most difficult year to apply to law school in recent memory,” says Mark R. Freeman ’97, the resident law tutor of Dunster House.

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Freeman, along with the law tutors of the other Houses, met with the deans of admissions from many major law schools this fall.

Freeman warns that admission numbers will be down anyway this year because of the high rate of matriculation of admitted students last year.

He emphasizes that law school will not only be more selective, but will also be more hesitant to make final decisions.

“They’re going to have more hold procedures, wait-lists, admissions strung out over the spring, that sort of thing,” Freeman says.

Current undergraduates are not the only ones flocking to law school this year.

Freeman says the number of Dunster House alums applying to law school has leaped from the single digits to more than 20 this year.

“That’s a 300 to 400 percent increase,” Freeman says. “We have alumni who’ve been laid off and it’s very hard to move from one job to another in this economy.”

Looking for the Envelope

Many undergraduates who are planning on attending law school say they are concerned about the record applicant pool.

“I see a lot of anxiety,” says Director of the Harvard Pre-Law Society Travis G. Good ’04, who is also a Crimson editor. “There are...people biting the bullet and applying now just to see if they’ll get in, especially advanced standing juniors. They’re anxious and uncertain, and they want to get it over with, especially with the unpredictable job market.”

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