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Top Students Avoiding Law School 2016 Edition

Back in 2013, I was the first person to notice that students graduating from the top universities in the country were beginning to avoid law school in droves. The LSAC usually updates this information around this time of year, but you have to just keep an eye on their website to catch it. See:

Last year, it looked like the declines were leveling off. I speculated:

But from 2013 to 2014, there was only a modest percentage decline for the other schools. Perhaps we’re seeing a leveling off in top university students avoiding law school.

The question then becomes: is this level the new normal or will top university students start going back to law school in higher numbers?

We’ll need a couple more years of data to see.

So how did things turn out this year? Did things level off? Are students from the best universities in the country heading back to law school?

Click for huge version.

Click for huge version.

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Top Students Still Staying Far Away From Law Schools

  • Cornell and Stanford students have completely “peace’d out yo!” from law school; they are down -53.18% and -54.96% respectively.
  • Dartmouth students dropped off a cliff from 2014 to 2015, down -19.85%.
  • Only U Penn had what could be described as significant gains, and that was only +5.63%.

What looked like a leveling off last year was apparently only a brief respite. Graduates from top schools increasingly view law school as a poor option for post-graduate studies.

Who knows when this is going to level off. But given that bar passage rates continue to decline across the country, things aren’t looking up for the legal industry at the moment.

If you’re thinking about law school, know what you’re getting into first.

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  • orbicularioculi

    We’ve always had too many lawyers. They create more problems than they solve. Automating law services is also going to make legal services more efficient and less expensive.

    • I don’t know about always, but we definitely have too many right now.

      We’ll see what automation holds in the future. If nothing else, the market is correcting itself on the input side. We’re definitely going to be getting fewer students in law schools in the future.

    • Sulaco

      Old saw. A small town can’t support one lawyer. It can support two.

  • Terenc Blakely

    Good news, fewer parasites. Hopefully they’ll go into productive careers.

  • nooyawka212

    A related question: Are males abandoning law school? As a general rule, occupations which attract large percentages of females tend to pay less. How do present law school abandonment trends play into gender-related compensation trends?

    • That’s actually a good question. I don’t know. That’s not in the feeder data that provides information on people heading into law schools. But sex is in the 509 Reports that provide information on law school graduates.

      That makes me interested. I’ll find out but it will take me a couple of days to input the data and run the numbers.

      • InklingBooks

        The data might be harder to get at, but you might also want to look at what career or further schooling they’re choosing instead. Medicine is comparable in income, but the courses you take to prepare for law school help little in medical school and vice-versa.

      • nooyawka212

        Time extension granted. With one proviso: you MUST tell us if your wife is a feminist. Having a feminist wife is a known cause of bias (I’ve been there, done that, lived to regret it).

  • Your chart seems to focus on absolute numbers. Are the class sizes constant? Could some of the decline be because these colleges have smaller class sizes?

    • Class size has some variance, but is roughly the same. They’re just not chosing law school anymore.

  • LudicrousSextus

    One wonders how many kids have noticed of late – lawyers, particularly those winding up in government positions – seem to spend an inordinate amount of time these days employing that ‘legal education’ in scenarios where the ‘desired outcome’ is finding ways *around* laws…

    Take Elena Kagan for instance – who violated Federal law (28 U.S.C. § 455) her very first SCOTUS case, by ruling on the ACA which she ‘helped craft the legal defense of’ prior to becoming a justice. With courts and government so routinely skirting law, the profession might seem to be just a bit less desirable as a lifelong pursuit.

  • BVB

    My conclusion from the chart: Looks like this is a good time to go to law school.

    • Some amount of people are thinking the same way. We’ll see if their bet pays off.