One Group of Law School Applicants That’s Growing: High-Scoring Kids

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 21 2014 3:58 PM

One Group of Law School Applicants That’s Growing: High-Scoring Students

It's not such a bad time to apply to Harvard Law after all.

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

When law school applications began collapsing a couple of years back, a troubling pattern emerged. Some of the biggest percentage drops were among elite applicants with high LSAT scores. The smallest declines, meanwhile, were among candidates with especially low LSAT scores—the aspiring J.D.s who were most likely to end up at diploma mills that leave scads of graduates unemployed. The higher-scoring students got the message that the job market was a mess. But the news wasn’t filtering down to the students most likely to get screwed by the system. As I wrote at the time, “The wrong people have stopped applying to law school.”

Since law school classes are still shrinking, I found myself wondering if the trend had changed at all. Judging from data provided to me by the Law School Admission Council, applications still aren’t falling nearly enough on the very low end of the LSAT range. Year-to-date, applicants scoring less than a 140 have ticked down less than one-tenth of a percentage point.


But here’s the most interesting bit: The number of top-tier applicants—those with at least a 170 on their LSAT—is growing again. These are students who can probably make it into one of the very few law programs where graduates never experienced significant underemployment. Their numbers are still well down from a few years ago but seem to have stabilized—they're realizing that now really is a good time to go to law school (so long as you can get into a decent program).


* * *

For those who are extra-obsessive about this topic, I've put together this chart showing the three-year changes to law school applications by LSAT band. Main takeaway: The declines we've seen in the past few years are going to hit middle-range schools the hardest unless they significantly lower their admissions standards.


Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They just aren’t ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

A No-Brainer Approach to Fighting Poverty: Better Birth Control

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 16 2014 11:56 AM Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 1:23 PM Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Sept. 16 2014 12:59 PM Ethereal Views of Earth From Way Up High 
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 12:33 PM Slate Exclusive: Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.