2015 should be an interesting year for law school applicants. Let’s make some guesses about what this new year will bring….
Legal Employment Will Improve
As of the September LSAT, we’re at a historical low for the number of LSAT takers. Law school applications are similarly down. But the economy is improving. Some are predicting that this combination will mean more jobs for the current crop of law school students, though law school employment rates kept falling as of last year. I think the legal field will follow the general trend of the rest of the economy, and legal jobs will rebound in the next year.
Changes In Affirmative Action Admissions May Be Coming
Asian students are suing Harvard University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill for allegedly discriminating against Asian applicants in undergraduate admissions. Keep on eye on these suits. If the plaintiffs win we will almost certainly see similar suits brought against law schools, whose affirmative action admissions processes work in much the same ways as those being challenged. It’s too early to tell for sure, but race-based admissions may have to change. Several states, including California and Michigan, already have bans on affirmative action admissions in place. Last year the Supreme Court approved such bans.
Some Law Schools May Close
With the number of law school applicants down, some law schools are hurting. Thomas Jefferson School of Law defaulted on its bonds and it may be soon forced to close. Some schools are trying to cut their faculty to save money and survive. Overall, the schools suffering are those whose graduates have very poor employment prospects. Law school applicants are more savvy these days, and I think this trend will continue. Applicants will avoid low performing schools, and flock to the better performing schools. The better schools include the top 14, but there are also several other schools where the salary to debt ratio is very favorable.
The LSAT Will Stay The Same More or Less
The LSAT is a standardized test. This means that any radical changes to the LSAT are highly unlikely because this may undermine its chief selling point: LSAT scores are comparable from year to year. An LSAT score from 5 years ago will still be good to go for the current application cycle. We may see some small changes, but nothing too bad. In the past couple of years a few rare, but not radically different logic games have popped up. For example, students reported that a circular ordering game came up on a recent LSAT. I think we’ll see more of the same in the next year.
That’s it for my predictions. If you have any of your own, feel free to post them in the comments. Happy New Year!