LSAC just released data revealing the number of people who took the December LSAT increased for the first time since 2009. Sure, it was only by .8%, but given that the overall number of test-takers has been trending steadily (and steeply) downward for years, that’s still newsworthy.
If you’re planning on applying to law school soon, you might wonder how this news affects you. After all, we’ve been saying for quite some time that since the number of applicants is down, those who do end up applying to law school have better odds. If the number of law school applicants starts trending upwards, the level of competition among applicants could increase, too.
There is good news for those hoping to take advantage of the relatively sparse number of law school applicants. Despite the slight uptick in December LSAT-takers, the overall number of law school applications is down 8.5% from this time last year (a fact that can’t be great for law schools that were already struggling to fill their entering classes).
It is important to keep in mind that, according to University of Chicago Law professor Brian Seiter, recent years have followed a pattern of people applying later in the application cycle than they did when the number of applications was at its peak. This fact jives with what we’ve been saying – when applications were filling law school admissions offices like Scrooge McDuck’s vault, it was more important to get yours in early, since most schools have rolling admissions. Now that there are fewer candidates overall, you’re at less of a disadvantage (if any) if you apply later in the cycle. Professor Seiter predicts that, although the number of applicants may currently be down 8.5%, it’s likely that the total number of applicants will be down by less than 8.5% once all is said and done.
It’s impossible to make a prediction about whether the number of future LSAT-takers and law school applications will increase or decrease. After all, as those studying for the LSAT should know, what has been true in the past may not continue to be true in the future, and we can’t generalize from a single data point. The slight uptick in December test-takers could be because more people are considering going to law school, or it could indicate that there were an unusual number of retakers for that particular test administration.
The bottom line is that, at least for this cycle, schools are still going to be competing for applicants. That’s very good news for most of you, because you have a better chance of being admitted and more leverage when it comes to negotiating scholarships. The number of LSAT-takers and law school applicants could start inflating in the future, but as far as current applicants are concerned, it’s still a great time to be applying to law school.