The 2018 law school admission cycle is the first since 2010 to post a significant increase. The number of applicants nationwide has fallen each since 2011, with the exception of a small 1.5 percent uptick last year. However, the current cycle of more than 59,000 law school applicants nationwide would be roughly on par with the size of the applicant pool in 2013, and far smaller than the 87,900 who applied in 2010.
Nonetheless, apparently there is a renewed sense of respect for the law. It lends credence to the notion that the Trump administration and mounting political discord are prompting more talented young people to consider pursuing a career in law to do good for the country. Other factors for the increase include modest improvements in the entry-level legal job market, which is due largely to the recent decline in the number of newly minted lawyers.
Based on the latest figures from the Law School Admission Council ("LSAC") in April 2018, the number of people who have applied to law schools nationwide this application cycle has increased more than 8 percent over last year
Even more importantly, the number of applicants with high scores on the Law School Admission Test has surged. The LSAC reported that the number of applicants with LSAT scores of 160 (about 80 percentile) or higher is up by 2,804, or 21 percent, over this time last year. (LSAT scores range from a high of 180 to a low of 120.)
Most noticeably, there is a 70 percent increase in the very highest score band reported by the council, 175 to 180, ie. 99.4 percentile to a perfect score, although those high scorers represent the smallest cohort of law applicants, ie, the top 0.5 percent. Thus far, 682 people with those high scores have applied, up from 401 at this point last year. Conversely, the number of applicants with LSAT scores of 144 or below (below forty percentile) declined slightly.
Typically law schools receive about 85 percent of all applications by early April each year. It means about 15 percent of all applications are from late applicants. Meanwhile, elite law schools have earlier cut off application dates and many lower-ranked schools continue to accept applications into the summer.
The increase in high scorers is a particularly welcome development in light of the attractions to young applicants from the technology industry. Legal educators and judicial circles have worried that the dearth of high scorers would lead to the deterioration of the quality of legal profession.
Another welcoming trend in the legal industry is that there have been a few start-ups offering matching clients with attorneys via a platform to make the industry more efficient and transparent.