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DC law schools shrink, see declining LSAT scores; are rich schools winning the financial-aid war?

Posted Sep 16, 2013 7:14 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A declining interest in law school is hitting even Georgetown.

Its 1L class of 544 students this fall may be the smallest ever, the Washington Post reports. Dean of admissions Andy Cornblatt tells the newspaper the number is an 8 percent drop from the 2010, when 591 first-year students enrolled. Still the school maintained a median LSAT of 168 and a 3.75 grade point average for the class.

“This year, the importance of financial aid got ratcheted up exponentially,” Cornblatt told the Post. “The competition among the top schools is more ferocious because there are just fewer people in that very top group of applicants. You had an arms race going on among top law schools so the best applicants would seriously consider coming to your school.”

George Mason law dean Dan Polsby says the rich schools and their well-funded aid programs are hurting other schools. “Things are tougher for us,” he told the Post. “There’s a pain cascade that can be discerned where I live, that my rich competitors only have to read about.”

George Mason’s 1L class has 151 students, up from 147 last year, but the median LSAT and grades of the incoming class slipped slightly, reaching its lowest level in years, the story says. The 1L class is still smaller from 2010, when 303 students enrolled.

George Washington’s law school, meanwhile, increased its 1L class from 399 last year to 481 this fall. The number is still down from the usual class of 500 or more students. The school increased its financial aid this year. According to previous press coverage, the school also relied more on grades and lowered its standards for LSAT scores.

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