Law Schools

Number of Students Applying to Law School Jumps 3.8 Percent

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Are more college grads planning to take refuge at law schools while riding out the economic downturn?

Apparently so, according to new data from the Law School Admission Council. The number of students applying to law schools is up 3.8 percent for fall 2009, and the number of applications filed by those individuals is up 6 percent.

Earlier numbers reported in March showed only a 2 percent increase in law school applicants.

LSAC president Daniel Bernstine says the economic downturn is the likely the reason for the increase. “In recessionary periods, people tend to go back to school if they are out of work,” he tells the ABA Journal in an interview. “They’re trying to upgrade their current education.”

He notes recent law firm layoffs and says the publicity could affect next year’s numbers. “The question will be whether next year there will be a similar kind of interest” in law school, he says. But he remains a law school booster, despite the recent layoff gloom and doom.

“The reality is that a law degree provides a person with a myriad of opportunities, not just practicing law,” he says. “If you are in the position where you are out of work, in some respects going back to school is a safer bet for the future than anything else.”

The LSAC numbers also showed impressive application increases of at least 40 percent at five schools, but the council did not disclose their names or whether they were newer schools that started out small.

The LSAC figures aren’t final. Last year at this time, the council had tallied 94 percent of the final numbers.

Bernstine’s assessment is echoed by a recent survey of 1,000 prelaw students by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. Two out of five applicants told Kaplan they were applying to law school in part to avoid having to look for employment.

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