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Christmas 2012

The Conclusions

These conclusions and my interpretations are based on data gathered from law school web pages and view books, handouts at Law Forums, emails and conversations (both by phone and in person) with admissions officers. All of this data has been presented and explained ad infinitum on these pages:

If you're going to try to read and interpret all that data, you really should read the footnotes and explanations here first.

But most of you just want the bottom line. Okay, here it is:

Applications 2009-2012

Based on data from 146 schools, applications have taken quite a nosedive.
I've smoothed the data from 2009 to 2011, because I omitted the data from 2010, for reasons I explain over here. But from 2011 to 2012, there was a serious plummet, probably the result of both a genuine lack of jobs and an incredible amount of yellow journalism.

Applications 2009-2012

What does that mean to you? A lot more junk mail, fee waivers, phone calls, invitations to visit, anything that's legal and a few that are questionable, to get you to apply.

The important thing to remember is that all those efforts to get your application have nothing at all to do with an intention to admit you.

  1. Part of a school's U.S. News ranking is the number of offers it gets.
  2. Like you, they're hoping to win a lottery ticket: someone who had no interest in their school becomes interested in a program or a recruiter, and another warm body worth over $100k shows up next year.
  3. They get really lucky, and a person with a good GPA and LSAT score decides to attend. Now they have more apps, more money, and higher medians. JACKPOT!

Does knowing the number of apps at a particular school tell you anything? Not really; to try to predict what any one school is going to do, I suggest you head right over to the double deluge -- GPA and LSAT

The only other thing I can deduce is that, if you look at the application data by school, you'll see that top schools and bottom, great cities and middle-of-nowhere, are all losing apps. So those articles you read about lower apps at lower schools are total B.S. There was a decline of between 13.5% and 14% at both the top 25 schools and the bottom 25.

Enrollment (a/k/a/ Seats) 2009-2012

With data from 167 schools, there's a lot to see here.

Enrolled at 167 law schools, 2009*2012

 

Start with all the same caveats as I've placed above, just under the heading "Applications."

Notice how similar the lines are. The slope of the line for seats is almost exactly the same as the slope of the line for applicants. What does that mean? It means that it need not be any easier to get in than it used to be, because the declines are proportional.

Think of it this way: if you have a hundred dollars and you save ten, you've saved 10%. If you have 200 and save 20, you've still saved 10%. There was a decline of just under 14% in apps, and just under 15% in seats, so again the overall ratio is meaningless; you're going to have to delve into the school-by-school data to see what to expect for your school.

GPA and LSAT 2009-2012

Last year I made a bad call. It's right here. I said "the law schools we know and love have the same old 40-42,000 seats they've had for over 30 years." Well, that wasn't true; the number of seats dropped to about 35,000. So instead of median LSAT scores dropping 2 points, as I had predicted someplace-or-another, some schools held LSAT constant and dropped seats, while others held seats constant and dropped LSAT. Which did which? That's what we're all here to see.

For the school-by-school data, head right over here. Or stay here and get the sound bite first. But if you actually want to learn something, DO look at the school-by-school data before making any further decisions.

This analysis again begins with the 167 law schools that provided data on the number of seats. Unfortunately, 17 of these schools didn't provide median GPA and LSAT data. For the 8 schools that gave no data, I'm deleting them from this data base. For the 9 that gave 25th and 75th percentiles but not medians (there are apparently some questions for the ABA about stray bits of data) I'm estimating the data. Estimated data is clearly marked by being in black text and bold.

When viewed by ranking, a clear pattern emerges.

  • The top 20 or so held LSAT and dropped seats. Can they afford to do that again next year if need be? My guess is that if they're willing, they can afford it. They do tend to have deep pockets.
  • From the top 25 to the middle of the pack, a school could choose to hold LSAT and lose a LOT of seats, or lose some seats and one LSAT point. Can they afford to do this again? My guess is not, but I've guessed wrong before. I'd look here for a scholarship with a high LSAT.
  • The bottom, especially the "unranked" schools, couldn't hold LSAT no matter how many seats they sacrificed. Some of them might be able to do this again, but here is where I'd look for a bargain with a low LSAT or a scholarship with a higher one.

Next, lets look at the change in the number of seats:

Schools that increased the number of seats did so at the expense of median LSAT. My guess is that they were hurting financially, and that they'll try not to repeat the pattern. I imagine they'll try to hold LSAT constant and lose a handful of seats.

Schools that held seats constant were all over the place for median LSAT; U.S. News rank (meaning a solid class in the first place) seemed to tell here. At the top of the heap you can have your cake and eat it too.

Schools that took enormous drops in class size also took a beating on LSAT, and my guess is that they just can't afford to do it again. As I said above, look at these schools to take people with LSAT scores a point or two lower simply because they have no choice.

Now, what happens if we sort by LSAT change?

Nothing we haven't already seen. The same is true of sorting by GPA. Any patterns that might emerge have already been described above.

But I know what will help you. I'm going to post in order by median LSAT. This data isn't gathered in one place anywhere else in the world. (Well the ABA has it, but they haven't published it). I'm not even going to make you go to another page to find it. Right here is the latest data on 160 law schools. Look especially at those median LSAT scores.

Merry Christmas!

 

Data from 2012 and Changes Since 2009

School Enrolled 2012 2012 G50 2012 L50 Seats LSAT GPA
Yale 196 3.9 173 -9 0 -0.01
Columbia 368 3.71 172 -32 0 -0.01
Harvard 557 3.88 172 -2 -1 -0.01
New York University 452 3.65 171 2 0 -0.07
Northwestern 207 3.8 170 -64 0 0.08
Penn 243 3.85 170 -12 0 0.03
Stanford 180 3.86 170 0 0 -0.02
Virginia 356 3.87 170 -12 0 0.02
Georgetown 578 3.73 169 -12 0 0.08
Michigan 344 3.73 169 -27 0 0.03
Vanderbilt 174 3.7 169 -21 1 -0.01
Cal Los Angeles 308 3.78 168 -12 0 0.03
Cal Berkeley 263 3.81 167 -29 -1 -0.02
George Washington 398 3.6 167 -108 0 -0.17
Minnesota 205 3.8 167 -8 0 0.16
Southern Cal 188 3.73 167 -27 0 0.13
Texas 308 3.67 167 -71 0 -0.04
Boston U 210 3.75 166 -61 0 0.05
Emory 247 3.57 166 -1 0 0
Notre Dame 178 3.66 166 -8 0 0.06
Washington U 201 3.68 166 -60 -1 -0.02
Alabama 156 3.83 165 -28 1 0.07
Boston College 245 3.61 164 -19 -2 0.08
Colorado 152 3.65 164 -14 1 -0.03
Fordham 432 3.5 164 -44 -1 -0.09
Georgia 189 3.67 164 -52 0 -0.03
Indiana Bloomington 200 3.8 164 -20 0 0.1
Washington 176 3.68 164 -5 1 0.02
Washington and Lee 187 3.62 164 52 -2 0.09
William and Mary 196 3.74 164 -13 -1 0.08
Arizona State 152 3.65 163 -32 2 0.05
Cal Davis 191 3.68 163 -22 0 0.17
George Mason 147 3.7 163 -99 0 -0.02
Wake Forest 125 3.62 163 -29 1 0.02
Cal Hastings 317 3.59 162 -152 -2 0.01
Cardozo 374 3.53 162 4 0 -0.06
Iowa 155 3.66 162 -40 1 0.05
North Car. Chapel Hill 262 3.6 162 0 0 0.02
Ohio State 173 3.64 162 -52 0 0
Pepperdine 213 3.63 162 -17 0 0.02
Richmond 154 3.52 162 5 1 0.04
Wisconsin 215 3.61 162 -63 0 0.01
Arizona 121 3.52 161 -34 0 0.01
Baylor 142 3.55 161 -55 1 -0.07
Brooklyn 365 3.33 161 -131 -1 -0.13
Florida 287 3.59 161 -20 0 -0.08
Houston 212 3.47 161 -44 0 0.13
Northeastern 170 3.53 161 -44 0 0.13
Temple 253 3.42 161 -50 0 0.01
Tulane 249 3.47 161 -35 -1 -0.13
Case Western 154 3.38 160 -56 2 -0.08
Florida State 187 3.53 160 -57 0 0
Lewis & Clark 214 3.47 160 -17 -1 -0.05
Loyola LA 400 3.5 160 4 0 -0.03
San Diego 247 3.5 160 -74 0 0.06
Tennessee 120 3.6 160 -38 0 0.05
Utah 97 3.61 160 -32 0 0.01
American 493 3.44 159 12 -3 0.08
Chicago-Kent 286 3.47 159 -12 -2 -0.03
Connecticut 151 3.45 159 -31 -2 0.07
Georgia State 204 3.4 159 -13 -2 -0.2
Nevada 139 3.46 159 -19 1 -0.02
Penn State 164 3.56 159 -42 1 0.08
Chapman 166 3.37 158 -15 0 -0.06
Cincinnati 103 3.5 158 -35 -2 -0.1
DePaul 246 3.42 158 -118 0 0.07
Hawaii 86 3.25 158 -38 2 -0.2
Kentucky 138 3.51 158 -14 -1 -0.09
Loyola Chicago 288 3.35 158 20 -2 -0.12
Nebraska 136 3.64 158 -1 2 0.09
Oklahoma 155 3.41 158 -44 0 -0.1
Oregon 147 3.33 158 -35 -1 -0.01
Pittsburgh 212 3.33 158 -23 -1 -0.09
Rutgers Newark 226 3.26 158 -33 0 -0.1
Santa Clara 237 3.24 158 -74 -1 -0.11
Seton Hall 206 3.5 158 -151 0 0.1
St. John's 270 3.44 158 -45 -2 -0.09
Villanova 220 3.51 158 -35 -4 0.07
Catholic 141 3.31 157 -127 -1 -0.02
Drexel 142 3.28 157 -14 -3 -0.14
Hofstra 325 3.27 157 -76 0 -0.29
Kansas 141 3.51 157 -22 0 0.01
Louisiana State 200 3.38 157 -33 0 -0.06
Michigan State 298 3.54 157 10 2 0.18
Missouri 133 3.5 157 -14 -1 0.03
Seattle 287 3.29 157 -45 0 -0.06
South Carolina 213 3.32 157 -27 -1 -0.14
Buffalo 205 3.51 156 -3 -1 -0.01
Florida International 159 3.61 156 -91 2 0.21
Indy-Indy 259 3.39 156 -38 0 -0.11
Louisville 140 3.44 156 -1 0 -0.06
New Hampshire (FP) 74 3.31 156 -84 4 -0.04
New Mexico 114 3.39 156 -3 1 -0.12
Pacific 248 3.32 156 -73 -1 -0.06
Quinnipiac 127 3.4 156 -33 -1 0.09
San Francisco 220 3.27 156 -52 -2 -0.14
St. Louis 205 3.45 156 -126 0 0.08
Texas Tech 232 3.48 156 19 0 0.05
Tulsa 110 3.38 156 -30 1 0.16
Wayne State 148 3.38 156 -37 0 -0.13
Denver 291 3.46 155 -9 -4 -0.05
Drake 126 3.3 155 -30 0 -0.12
Elon 100 3.15 155 -21 1 -0.06
Gonzaga 132 3.27 155 -56 0 -0.03
Maine 87 3.31 155 -3 1 -0.06
Marquette 226 3.4 155 7 -2 0.01
Mississippi 157 3.39 155 -16 1 -0.1
Regent 142 3.29 155 -20 3 -0.08
St. Thomas (MN) 143 3.4 155 -31 -2 0.06
William Mitchell 260 3.38 155 -40 0 -0.02
Campbell 161 3.29 154 2 -2 -0.08
Cleveland 140 3.3 154 -63 -2 -0.14
Memphis 113 3.25 154 -30 -2 -0.18
Montana 82 3.49 154 -2 0 0.05
Stetson 300 3.25 154 -95 -2 -0.19
Akron 165 3.37 153 -170 0 -0.02
Creighton 127 3.19 153 -50 0 -0.24
Hamline 126 3.38 153 -81 -1 -0.04
Idaho 102 3.21 153 -12 -2 -0.14
Mercer 130 3.42 153 -27 -3 -0.01
St. Mary's 248 3.08 153 -44 -1 -0.1
Syracuse 245 3.28 153 22 -2 -0.04
Washburn 136 3.19 153 -23 -1 -0.12
Willamette 136 3.18 153 -12 -1 -0.05
Albany 202 3.31 152 -53 -3 0.01
Baltimore 364 3.14 152 -15 -3 -0.15
Cal Western 250 3.2 152 -90 -1 -0.08
Duquesne 139 3.34 152 -85 1 -0.08
Northern Kentucky 181 3.18 152 -13 -1 -0.17
NYLS 448 3.15 152 -288 -2 -0.08
Ohio Northern 79 3.18 152 -34 -2 -0.27
Suffolk 528 3.24 152 -3 -4 -0.06
Texas Wesleyan 259 3.07 152 26 -1 -0.1
Toledo 123 3.26 152 -58 -1 0.03
Vermont 171 3.21 152 -62 -3 -0.11
Whittier 272 2.95 152 -34 1 -0.15
Charleston 175 3.16 151 -66 -2 0.02
DC 125 2.95 151 2 0 -0.1
Golden Gate 185 3.16 151 -58 -2 0.02
Roger Williams 155 3.3 151 -265 -1 0.04
Southern Ill 115 3.07 151 -22 -2 -0.18
Atlanta's John Marshall 182 2.99 150 -29 -1 0.02
Capital 188 3.19 150 -60 -3 -0.04
Liberty 84 3.32 150 -35 -1 0.17
North Dakota 84 3.27 150 -2 -2 -0.03
Northern Illinois 114 3.16 150 7 -4 -0.07
Nova Southeastern 380 3.14 150 -50 1 -0.08
Western New England 108 3.15 150 -73 -2 -0.07
Widener 331 3.18 150 -52 -2 0.05
Dayton 133 3.11 149 -69 -2 -0.05
Mississippi College 150 3.27 149 -44 -1 -0.03
New England Law 452 3.04 149 49 -3 -0.18
Ave Maria 113 3.1 148 -97 -2 -0.12
Florida Coastal 496 3.1 148 -226 -2 -0.1
Touro 250 3.15 148 -65 -3 0.01
Barry 296 2.92 147 43 -3 0.02
Faulkner 127 3.05 147 -23 -2 -0.02
Florida A&M 216 3.09 147 -18 1 0.02
North Carolina Central 248 3.23 144 44 -1 -0.01

 

Okay, now that I've given you this wonderful gift, I want you to give one. It's really easy: donate to Wiki. Five bucks, that's all. More if you want, of course; if I've saved you from one wrong application, that's $100 or so. But don't let the world's best source of knowledge go broke.

 

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