Law Schools

Law Applications Surge at Some Schools, But National Increase Is Less Than 1%


Applications to Duke University School of Law hit an all-time record high this year, surging by 4 percent, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School saw a 6 percent increase, to the second-highest number of applications on record.

The 6,300 or so applications at Duke represent a 4 percent increase from last year’s applicant pool of 6,069, only 200 of which were accepted, reports the Duke Chronicle. Final statistics for this year’s applications haven’t yet been compiled.

At Penn, there are 6,169 applications, so far, for 250 places in the fall class, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

However, the number of law school applications nationally has risen by less than 1 percent from last year, despite the dismal state of the economy, communications director Wendy Margolis of the Law School Admission Council tells the Chronicle. (Earlier, she told the Inquirer that applications had dropped a bit this year; final numbers for the current year are still being compiled.)

That compares to a 17.6 percent increase in the national law school applicant pool in 2002 after the 2001 recession, according to Margolis.

It’s possible that a bigger surge in law school applications could come next year: Preparing to apply for law school takes time, and the economic debacle struck late in the year in 2008.

“Often in times of economic downturn, there may be an increase,” Margolis tells the Chronicle. But “there may be a lag time between when people are getting really concerned” and when they actually apply to law school.

However, the cost of law school tuition today may be discouraging some potential applicants. “It is very expensive to go to law school,” she tells the Inquirer, “and loan sources have dried up.”

Both Duke and Penn are listed among the nation’s top law schools in the controversial U.S. News & World Report rankings, which put Penn in a tie for 7th place and Duke in a tie for 12th last year.

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