Top students still not interested in a JD

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A few months before law schools around the country begin a new academic year, the number of people applying for admission has slipped, with the greatest decline coming from applicants posting the highest LSAT scores.

The number of applications to law schools has reached 344,358 as of June 9, according to the Law School Admissions Council. That represents a 1.4 percent increase over the applications submitted in 2016 but the number of applicants for the 2017-2018 school year is 53,101, a 0.5 percent decline from last year.

Paul Caron, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law and author of the Tax Prof Blog, crunched the data and found the top performers are turning away from legal education. He found applicants with an LSAT score of 160 or above has plunged 35 percent since 2010 while those with scores below 150 are up 146 percent.

Caron’s additional review of 2017 data shows decreases in the number of applicants on both ends of the LSAT scoring. Of the 2017 LSAT takers with scores between 165 and 169, a total of 12.4 percent fewer applied to law school than in 2016. The decline in applications among those with scores between 170 and 174 was 1.1 percent and among those with scores between 175 and 180 was a startling 23.0 percent.

Likewise, applications from LSAT takers with scores ranging from 140 to 144 fell 2.7 percent while those with scores below 140 dropped 9.1 percent.

The highest increase was 6.1 percent among test takers with LSAT scores between 150 and 154.

Caron told the ABA Journal, “The story could be that better credentialed college graduates are turning away from going to law school because they feel they have other opportunities that they feel are more attractive. For several years, legal education has taken a pounding. It’s not providing the kinds of opportunities it provided to students in the past.”

The LSAC did not provide a breakdown of by individual law schools. However, the American Bar Association’s Standard 509 reports shows that median LSAT scores for the students matriculating in 2016.

In Indiana, Notre Dame Law School led with a median LSAT score of 164 and Indiana University Maurer School of Law followed with a median score of 161. Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law had a median score of 153 while Valparaiso Law School posted a median score of 147. Indiana Tech Law School, which is closing at the end of the month, had a median score of 149.

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