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Columbia Law's Applications Dropped 27% Since 2008

Vivia Chen

October 3, 2013

The latest on the law school application scene:

SadNerd_RyanJLane_istock1. Big drop in applications at New York law schools. Another sign that law isn't quite the select destination it once was: Columbia Law School, the nation's fourth-ranking law school, reports that applications have dropped 27 percent since 2008, and 12 percent since last year.

Despite that downward trend, David Schizer, a dean at Columbia, tells New York Law Journal, "we are incredibly spoiled [by the caliber of applicants]," adding "that there are many, many more people who would do well here than we can admit."

Maybe so, but you have to wonder what it means when a top-drawer law school is seeing such a spectacular decline in applications.

NYLJ also reports that the other 14 law schools in New York are experiencing varying rates of application drop, with the exception of Cornell Law School which claims a 4 percent increase since 2008. (Cornell has, however, had its own ups and downs in the admissions race—click here for related story.)

Compared to Columbia, its downtown competitor NYU School of Law fared a bit better: NYU's applications dropped 19 percent since 2008, and 10 percent from last year.

Of course, the law schools with the sharpest drops were ones with low rankings—like Albany, SUNY Buffalo, Hofstra, Pace, and Touro—which have all seen application declines of more than 40 percent since 2008. But even a perfectly respectable mid-tier school like Fordham saw law school applications drop 38 percent since 2008.

Any way you look at it, it's much easier to squeeze into a "reach" law school than ever before. So if you can't get yourself into a decently-ranked law school (let's say top 50 or so), you might think twice about whether you're cut out for this racket in the first place.  (New York Law Journal)

2. Top 10 law schools for your money. A few weeks ago, we gave you The National Jurist's list of best value private law schools. This time, National Jurist is releasing its composite list for both private and public schools. Both lists weighed law school's tuition, typical student debt, and the location's cost of living, along with data about employment and bar passage rates

Here are the top 10 in this expanded group:

1. University of Alabama

2. University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

3. Louisiana State University

4. University of Nebraska

5. University of South Dakota

6. Brigham Young

7. University of Kentucky

8. Georgia State

9. Florida State

10. William & Mary

You might notice that Brigham Young, number six on this list, was number one on the private law school list. So any way you look at, BYU seems to deliver remarkable value. As we've said before: Go Mormon! (The National Jurist)

Hat tip: ABA blog


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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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