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Law School Applications Are Up (But Down)

Vivia Chen

May 24, 2013

Update: Yolanda Young, the publisher and CEO of Lawyers of Color magazine, has contacted us since we first published this post. She writes in a email to us:

Our editorial staff, law fellows and advisers spent months planning and researching this issue. We worried that our research would be inconclusive or incorrect, so we asked each law school to confirm the accuracy of the minority faculty members we intended to report. Unfortunately, only about 20% of schools responded.

Young adds that her publication will be issuing an updated report on July 9, 2013.

A quick look at recent law school news:

©-Imagery-Majestic---Fotolia.comLaw school applications are on the ascent—though they are actually down. The Faculty Lounge blog has good news for anxious law school administrators: Applications are up. Sort of—that is, they're not quite as down as they were projected earlier in the year. Faculty Lounge reports:

Back on January 10, we reported that applicants were down 22.1 percent compared to last year. Based on that number, LSAC was projecting something around 52,000 total applicants this year. Four months later, and the news is a bit different. The total number of applicants is [only] down 13.4 percent, and the projected total number of applicants is looking like it'll be around 58,700.

Of course, this year's numbers still represent a big drop from last year, when applications numbered 68,000, notes the blog.

So why should you care? Well, as we've been telling you, it's still a good time to squeeze into a better law school than you might have gotten into a few years ago. As the blog says, "Given that the top schools seem likely to maintain class size even in the face of an overall credential drop, a 168 LSAT is likely to take you a long way this year."

Oops—maybe we should start over with that diversity report. Lawyers of Color magazine recently came out with its list of the 13 most diverse law schools of the 200 ABA–accredited law schools. As The National Law Journal reports about the magazine's finding: "If you want to find the most racially diverse law faculties, look outside U.S. News and World Report's top-ranked schools—way outside. "

The law schools with the most diverse faculty are:

• Florida International University College of Law (ranked 105 by U.S. News);
• The University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law (ranked 80);
• Howard University School of Law (ranked 126);
• The University of New Mexico School of Law (ranked 64).

The NLJ reports that the other seven schools with high diversity "fell within U.S. News's unranked second tier."

Frankly, I don't know anyone who'd be shocked that the top law schools aren't overflowing with diverse members. And I doubt that the names on that most diverse list is a surprise either.

But here's the clincher—and it's the NLJ's update about the story:

Since the publication of Lawyers of Color's rankings and list of diverse faculty, a number of law professors affiliated with the Association of American Law School's Listserv of minority professors have raised questions about the thoroughness and accuracy of the report. For example, Seattle University School of Law and its minority faculty were excluded from the list, including dean Mark Niles, who is black. Similarly, the list identified Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law Dean John Attanasio as black, when he is white.

Yikes. If a publication devoted to diversity is making some basic mistakes about who's a minority, shouldn't we all go back to the drawing board? (The NLJ asked Lawyers of Color about the mistake, but has not heard back.)


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We have two law schools in South Carolina attorneys around here usually attend, and last I heard their enrollment was booming.

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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: [email protected]

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