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LSAT Scores at Top Schools Are Dropping Like Flies

Vivia Chen

September 7, 2012

©Steve-Young-Fotolia.comIf you think you're a pretty smart cookie—but not spectacularly so—this might be the year that you can squeeze into a better law school than you thought possible.

The reason is simple: There are fewer applicants, which results in more opportunities at more prestigious law schools. You've probably heard about that 25 percent drop in law school applications in the past three years or so, but did you know that the top 14 law schools will be forced to accept students who are below the top 2 percent of their LSATs? (Sobs, please.)

Here's the nitty gritty from Blueprint, an LSAT tutoring company, based on statistics from the Law School Admissions Council, Inc.:

We see that in 2010/2011, there were 3,430 students in the top 2 percent on the LSAT (171+), which is at or near the median LSAT score for most elite (top 14 or T14 as determined by U.S. News & World Report rankings) law schools. That number drops to 2,600 in 2011/2012, resulting in nearly 1,000 fewer top percentile scores from which law schools can recruit.

So what does this all mean? Naturally, Blueprint is telling people to go for it—since it's in the LSAT tutoring biz. Here's how it explains the trickle-down effect of lowered law school admissions standards:

With fewer applicants at the top for the same number of slots, the entire admissions game is going to undergo a large shift. Students traditionally just outside the T14 based on their numbers will find themselves admitted, or on waitlists. As they jump at the opportunity to mortgage their future for a top school . . . their slots in T20 schools will open up for those below them, and so on.

LSAT scores more than any other aspect of the application determines acceptance, notes Blueprint: "LSAT accounts for up to 60 percent of the admission decision."

Blueprint also says that applicants are too pessimistic about the cost of law school tuition and their prospects for getting into law schools. It conducted a poll of nearly 600 prospective law students, in conjunction with Above the Law. Their finding: "The majority of prelaw students are actually overestimating the cost of attending law school." It also finds that more than a quarter of the students (27 percent) think it's harder to gain admission than it actually is.

So is law school easier to get into now? Perhaps. But is that a good enough reason to dedicate yourself to three years of schooling for a profession you might not like (assuming you can get a job that requires a legal degree)?

Uh, I don't think so.



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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: VChen@alm.com

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