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

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • No law school has yet reported a decline in its median LSAT score
  • Lewis & Clark Law School's four-point increase is the biggest so far

(Reuters) - Law schools are reporting eye-popping increases in median Law School Admission Test scores for their first-year classes, illustrating how competitive last year’s admission cycle was.

Law schools' median LSAT scores rarely change by more than a point from year to year. But so far this year at least six law schools have reported three-point increases in their median LSAT, including two ranked in the top 20 — Cornell Law School and Georgetown University Law Center. Forty-two schools have said their median LSAT went up two points.

Portland’s Lewis & Clark Law School, ranked No. 88 by U.S. News & World Report, has reported the largest growth in its median LSAT score to date, a four-point increase from 158 to 162.

This year’s gains are likely due in part to a nearly 13% increase in the number of law school applicants nationwide and a surge in high LSAT scores that some have attributed to the pandemic-prompted switch to a remote LSAT. The number of people with LSAT scores in the highest band of 175 to 180 more than doubled last cycle, according to data from the Law School Admission Council.

The number of applicants to Lewis & Clark increased more than 30% last year, with many drawn to its service and justice-oriented ethos, said Assistant Dean of Admissions Mimi Huang.

“I think it’s what’s happening in our economy and our society, and people just wanting to make a difference," Huang said.

Final admission figures won’t be released by the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar until December, but law school admissions consultant Mike Spivey has been compiling the data self-reported by law schools. All but 14 of the schools ranked in the top 100 by U.S. News have provided 2021 median LSAT figures on their websites. With more than two thirds of all law schools reporting thus far, none has seen a drop in their median LSAT, according to Spivey’s data.

“No one went down,” Spivey said Tuesday. “I’ve never seen that in the 21 or 22 years I been following this. That might be the definition of unprecedented.”

Spivey also noted that many schools were able to increase the LSAT scores and grade-point averages of their new classes while also bringing in more students than the previous year — another unusual aspect of the past admissions cycle.

Alongside Cornell and Georgetown, Texas A&M University School of Law, Howard University School of Law, Mercer University School of Law and New England Law Boston also reported a three-point increase in their median LSAT scores.

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at