The number of people taking the LSAT has dropped yet again.
If it seems like you’ve read that sentence before, it’s because you probably have. With the exception of a slight uptick in February 2014, the number of people taking the LSAT has steadily declined since October 2010. As I wrote when the December LSAT numbers were released, the decrease in people taking the LSAT is likely good news for people applying to law school now. Fewer people taking the LSAT means fewer law school applicants, which means less competition both for admittance and for scholarships. The good news, however, doesn’t stop there.
According to an article published in the Winter 2014 issue of PreLaw Magazine, though estimates of the exact time-frame vary, there could be more jobs than law school graduates as early as 2016. And in light of the fact that the legal services sector added 2,000 jobs in January alone, that’s starting to look like a less crazy prediction.
As noted in the article, most of the calculations included jobs for which a JD was an advantage but that did not necessarily require bar passage. It’s questionable whether recent graduates are happy with such jobs or are taking them out of necessity. However, even when JD advantage jobs were factored out of the equation, law professor Deborah Jones Merritt found that there would be equilibrium between law school grads and jobs that require bar passage by 2021.
These predictions are backed up by recent trends. The Wall Street Journal reported this winter that summer associate offer rates are approaching pre-recession levels. Not surprisingly, this news comes with a couple caveats: summer associate class sizes are smaller than they were during the height of the legal bubble, and those unlucky ones who aren’t given the opportunity to sell their souls as summer associates are still having a harder time finding employment after graduation. However, it seems clear that employment figures are trending upwards.
The legal industry job forecast isn’t all sunshine and roses just yet. For instance, what about those who graduated at the height of the recession and are still trying to find entry-level legal jobs? Will they be able to take advantage of the increase in jobs in the legal sector, or will they be passed up in favor of more recent grads? At this point, it’s too soon to tell whether things will be improving across the board, or only for recent graduates.
We at Blueprint LSAT Prep have been saying for a while that this is a good time to be applying to law school: Since the number of applicants has been dropping precipitously, those who persist in applying are more likely to gain admittance and more likely to get scholarships. However, the data is starting to show that in a few years it might be a good time to be graduating from law school as well.