Law Students

LSAT Test-Takers Jump by Nearly 20%; Should They Consider the Alternatives?

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The number of people taking the Law School Admission Test is at an unprecedented high, and the recession is a likely reason. But some are questioning whether bad economic times are a sufficient reason to go to law school.

“We assume that the economic downturn is causing more people to think about graduate education, but we have no way to prove that it is,” Wendy Margolis, director of communications for the Law School Admission Council, tells the ABA Journal. She also points out that there are more people in the 20- to 24-year-old age group, and that could also be driving up the numbers.

In September, 60,746 people took the LSAT, a jump of 19.8 percent from the year before. Margolis told the Iowa Press-Citizen that the spike in the numbers may be an indication that law school applications will also be higher.

At the University of Iowa College of Law, applications so far this year are up a whopping 53 percent from the same time last year, according to the Press-Citizen. At Drake University Law School, however, applications are on a par with last year.

The blog Most Strongly Supported has additional LSAT information, confirmed by Margolis. The number of test takers in September is the highest in the history of the exam. The fall exam numbers were 60,746 in 2009; 50,721 in 2008; 49,785 in 2007; and 48,171 in 2006.

The blog report led the Wall Street Journal Law Blog to question whether some people are considering law school for the wrong reasons. It quotes a National Jurist essay that says you should not go to law school because: 1) You want to make a lot of money, 2) You are trying to please someone else, and 3) You see law school as a default option.

Says Law Blog: “Don’t get me wrong. Law school is absolutely the right move for people of a certain predilection, namely, those people who really want to practice law for a living. … I’d encourage you to ask yourselves, LSAT-takers, is there anything else you’d rather be? Try that first. Law school will always be there.”

Updated at 1:20 p.m. to add a comment from Margolis.

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