Law Schools

1L Enrollment Dropped at Three-Fourths of Accredited Law Schools This Year, Preliminary Stats Show

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Updated and clarified: About three-fourths of 201 ABA-accredited law schools had declines in first-year enrollment this fall, according to preliminary statistics from the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

Ninety of the 149 schools with lower enrollment had declines of 10 percent or more, according to a press release. Forty-eight schools, on the other hand, had an increase in enrollment, and at eight of those schools the increase was up 10 percent or more.

The decrease in first-year enrollment represents a drop of 9 percent from the fall of 2011 and a drop of about 15 percent from historic highs in 2010. Overall, 44,481 full-time and part-time students began their legal studies this fall, compared to 52,488 in the fall of 2010.

The new statistics show shrinking enrollment is more widespread than indicated in a survey by Kaplan Test Prep. Rather than asking about declining enrollment, the study asked whether law schools had cut the size of their entering classes. Fifty-one percent of 123 responding law schools had done so.

The new statistics are based on questionnaires filed by the schools with the legal education section, which accredits law schools. The section plans to release more detailed data in the spring of 2013, including the verified and exact number of enrolled students, undergraduate grade-point average and LSAT data.

Updated on Nov. 29 to clarify the wording of the survey by Kaplan Test Prep.

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