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Law School Applications Fall 18 Percent

Vivia Chen

August 23, 2013

What you've been waiting for: The numbers on this year's law school admission:

Sulky Child © godfer - Fotolia.com1. It's official: Getting into law school is easier—so much easier—than getting your three-year old into a private nursery school in New York City.

I'm not being facetious. I know lots of adorable, bright toddlers who can't get into a halfway decent school in this town, while virtually every lawyer-wannabee I know seem to be gliding into the law school of her choice these days.

First, let's look at the latest numbers from the Law School Admissions Council:

As of 08/08/13, there are 385,358 fall 2013 applications submitted by 59,426 applicants. Applicants are down 12.3% and applications are down 17.9% from 2012.

Law schools have not seen such small classes since the 1970s, says Fortune. To entice students to come, law schools are "moving back application deadlines, reducing class size, paring faculty,  and— most importantly—offering more financial aid or full tuition rides," reports Fortune.

So how much aid are we talking about? And what type of students are getting assistance? Reports Fortune:

Students with solid but not spectacular test scores are reporting that they have full-tuition offers from schools like Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and Vanderbilt Law School—which are just shy of $50,000 a year for tuition.

"I bounced offers back and forth, and eventually I got a full ride," says Mark Kettlewell, 32, who is enrolling in Washington University.

According to the Fortune article, Kettlewell squeezed more than $145,000 out of Washington University Law School. Not bad, considering that Kettlewell didn't have dazzling LSATs (he scored 166, which happens to be Wash U's median).

In the past, I've been pretty discouraging about going to law school in this uncertain job market, especially if you have to incur a big debt in the process. But, hey, if a perfectly decent school like Wash U (ranked 19 in the U.S. News & World Report) wants to pay your way, who am I to complain?

Hat tip: ABA Blog

2. But thank goodness Harvard is still hard to get into—or so it says. Just when you thought the profession is going to pot, it's reassuring to know that Harvard Law School isn't slumming it. “I can tell you that Harvard did not experience any decline in applications versus last year, so our admit rate for this year’s entering class will be lower than last year’s class,” Robb London, Harvard spokesperson, told The Wall Street Journal Blog.

Though Harvard hasn't released its 2013 admissions data yet, there's no denying that the odds of getting in have been improving in recent years. In 2009, Harvard’s acceptance rate was 11.2 percent; in 2012, it increased by 42 percent to 15.9 percent, according to WSJ.

The bottom line: Harvard is still picky—but not as picky as it once was. As London told WSJ: "I think applicants have realized that this is a great time to apply to top law schools like Harvard.”

Read between the lines: You might have a shot at Harvard Law! Go for it.


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Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? Email The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at [email protected]

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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