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Law schools brace for another application boom

2 minute read

Signage is seen outside of the Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, New York City, U.S., September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Many would-be law students shut out last year likely to reapply
  • High demand could make scholarships extra hard to come by

(Reuters) - Law school admissions officers are forecasting another competitive year, with a high volume of applicants and fewer scholarship dollars to go around.

More than three-quarters of the 90 law school admissions officers surveyed by test prep provider Kaplan in August said they expect the 2022 applicant pool to be as large or larger than 2021 — which grew 13% over the previous year. Only 22% said they expect a smaller pool, according to the survey, released Monday.

The 2021 applicant pool was the largest of the past decade, driven largely by the pandemic and a tight entry level job market for new college graduates.

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In addition to a spike in applicants, 2021 saw a surge in high Law School Admission Test scores. Law schools have reported unprecedented increases in the median LSAT score of their first-year classes this fall, and 72% of the surveyed admissions officials said they rejected more applicants last year with strong LSAT scores than in previous years. The 2022 applicant pool will likely include many of those rejected 2021 applicants, they said.

“It is not a buyer’s market,” Kaplan executive director of legal programs Jeff Thomas said in a statement. “A strong LSAT score, which previously almost always guaranteed you a ticket to a top law school, isn’t enough anymore.”

Among the surveyed admissions officials, 55% said that 2022’s new law students will receive less financial aid than their predecessors. Another 38% said scholarships will stay the same, while 7% said scholarships will increase.

It’s early in the application cycle, but data from the Law School Admission Council show that the number of applicants as of Nov. 7 was already up 2% from a year ago.

Read more:

Law school applicants surge 13%, biggest increase since dot-com bubble

Law schools report soaring admission test scores in 'unprecedented' year

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Reporting by Karen Sloan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at karen.sloan@thomsonreuters.com

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