Law Schools

Law School Applicants Up 3%, Lawyer Positions at Top Firms Down 4%

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The number of people applying to enter law school this fall increased 3 percent, even as the number of lawyers at the nation’s 250 largest law firms fell 4 percent last year.

The National Law Journal noted the statistics. The applicants were apparently hedging their bets with multiple applications, spurring a 7 percent increase in law school applications.

James Leipold, the executive director of NALP, formerly the National Association for Law Placement, told the NLJ he’s not surprised by the numbers. “It’s absolutely consistent with every recession we’ve seen, with more people looking to graduate programs and into law school,” Leipold said. “Historically, it’s not been a bad strategy. I do think, for the immediate future, there are going to be fewer entry-level jobs at law firms.”

The increase differs by gender. The percentage of male law school applicants increased by almost 5 percent, while the number of female applicants increased by only 1 percent. Sarah Zearfoss, assistant dean for admissions at the University of Michigan Law School, said the reason may be that women are more risk-averse and don’t want to take on more debt for law school.

Public law schools, which tend to be less expensive, saw some of the biggest increases in applicants. Applications were up 70 percent at the University of Alabama, 65 percent at the University of Maine, 37 percent at the University of Illinois, and 36 percent at the University of Iowa, the story says.

The NLJ identifies other law schools seeing big increases as Cornell (up 50 percent) and Duke (up 25 percent).

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