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We asked law school career counselors from across the county about what advice should be given to law students who will be attending law school this year. We received some great advice from a successful law school admissions blogger. We want to share what he had to say with our readers, especially law students who would benefit most from his message.
Evan Jones" border="0" height="200" hspace="10" src="https://www.lawcrossing.com/images/articleimages/Law-Student-Feature_big.jpg" title="Advice for Law Students Given by UChicago J.D. and Law School Admissions Blogger Evan Jones" vspace="5" width="300" /> I believe I have very important advice, and no one in the media has caught on to this yet:
The big issue that students need to be aware of right now is that law schools are handling the great applications plunge very differently. Though apps have fallen over 40% since 2004, enrollment at law schools has stayed high: In 2009, 51,600 applicants enrolled at law school. In 2012, the most recent year for which we have figures, it's still pretty high, at 44,500. Most schools are getting it done by slashing admissions standards, sometimes drastically.
This practice is going to hurt schools. Accepting weaker applicants can cause a slide in the rankings. As student quality drops, so too do bar passage rates. Ultimately, students from that school can become less employable.
Luckily some schools are smartening up a little. Grudgingly or otherwise, many institutions have reduced class size in order to keep a same or similar quality class. According to a recent Kaplan survey, some 54% of law schools cut the size of their incoming fall 2013 class. This matters a lot to incoming students because schools that have significantly reduced class size are a much higher value product right now.
Student need to be very wary of schools that are staying bloated. Here's the risk: you feel lucky get into a school that would have been very tough to get into with your numbers pre-recession. The school is sliding a bit in the rankings and it's student LSAT and GPA medians are headed further south. By the time you graduate, that school may have taken a fall from which it can't recover. This isn't merely theoretical, either. Some schools such as American University have already taken a huge slide in the rankings.
Students also need to consider the amount of scholarship money schools are paying. The most responsible schools have also upped their scholarship budgets a lot to attract quality applicants.
It's simple comparison shopping. Even if you pay full price, pay it for a school that is protecting its long term value by maintaining student quality. As I see it, there is also a moral dimension to the choice. Students should hesitate to support a school that is still charging big dollars to send the same amount of candidates out into a now much more competitive job market. If they can't find their moral compass, they should at least not go unless they are sure it's been made worth their while (think big $).
- Evan Jones, UChicago J.D. and law school admissions blogger at lawschooli.com
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