Another year, another data dump. December 15th is the annual reporting day for ABA 509 Disclosures for all ABA approved law schools. These are required public disclosures that law schools must make as part of their ABA accreditation. As soon as the ABA started releasing the data, I began to compile it and release reports at Associate’s Mind.

Warning: before you continue, this post includes huge images and graphs. If you’re on mobile, you’re probably better off waiting until you reach a desktop.

2014: Dumpster Diving Into the ABA’s 509 Information Reports (Statistics + Graphs)

2015: 2015 ABA 509 Disclosures: Fifty Shades Of Grey

2016: ABA 509 Disclosures For All Law Schools 2016

2017: Law Schools ABA 509 Disclosures 2017 (Stats + Graphs)

2018: Law Schools ABA 509 Disclosure Reports 2018 (Stats + Graphs)

Before we begin, here is the current 2011-2019 data for all law schools sorted alphabetically if you want to just find your school.

2011 To 2019 Changes

Law school enrollment continues to be significantly down since reporting began.

Total matriculant change from 2011 to 2019: -17.9%.

Downward trends

  • 3 4 law schools are now dead: Arizona Summit, CharlotteValparaiso, & Whittier. Arizona is the additional dead school.
  • 149 law schools decreased in matriculants from 2011 to 2019.
  • 9 schools had matriculants decrease by over 50% from 2011 to 2019.
  • 106 law schools had a double digit percentage decrease in matriculants since 2011.
  • Largest decrease: Western State at -90.3%
  • Runner-up decrease: Thomas Jefferson at -88.9%

Top ten largest percentage decreases from 2011 to 2019

aba 509 disclosures biggest decreases

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WESTERN STATE COLLEGE OF LAW

-90.3%

THOMAS JEFFERSON SCHOOL OF LAW

-88.9%

FLORIDA COASTAL SCHOOL OF LAW

-87.0%

WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY (COOLEY)

-74.8%

ATLANTA’S JOHN MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL

-73.5%

PONTIFICAL CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF P.R.

-70.1%

APPALACHIAN SCHOOL OF LAW

-58.2%

OHIO NORTHERN UNIVERSITY

-55.4%

FAULKNER UNIVERSITY

-51.6%

PITTSBURGH, UNIVERSITY OF

-47.8%

Upward trends

  • 48 schools had no change or increased matriculants from 2011 to 2019.
  • 22 schools had a double digit percentage increase in matriculants.
  • Largest increase*: Lincoln Memorial at 197.1%
  • Runner-up increase: University of Law Verne at 80%
  • * Note – Concordia Law School opened in 2012, so naturally their % increase is gigantic, but I don’t include them here as it doesn’t accurate reflect their student body trends.

Top ten largest percentage increases from 2011 to 2019

aba 509 disclosures biggest increase

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BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

19.0%

CALIFORNIA-DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF

21.9%

CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY, UNIVERSITY OF

28.7%

CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

29.2%

PENNSYLVANIA STATE – DICKINSON LAW

41.8%

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

62.5%

MITCHELL|HAMLINE

76.1%

CALIFORNIA-IRVINE, UNIVERSITY OF

76.4%

UNIVERSITY OF LA VERNE

80.0%

LINCOLN MEMORIAL

197.1%

2018 To 2019 Changes

Looking just at the past year-to-year changes, trends remain flat.

Downward trends

  • 83 schools decreased in matriculants from 2018 to 2019.
  • 1 law schools had matriculants decrease by over 50% from 2018 to 2019: Western State.
  • 33 schools had a double digit decrease in matriculants from 2018 to 2019.
  • Largest decrease: Western State at -85.5%
  • Runner-up decrease: Golden Gate at -46.1%

Top ten largest percentage decreases from 2018 to 2019

WESTERN STATE COLLEGE OF LAW

-85.80%

GOLDEN GATE UNIVERSITY

-46.41%

WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY (COOLEY)

-46.03%

ATLANTA’S JOHN MARSHALL LAW SHOOL

-35.19%

KENTUCKY, UNIVERSITY OF

-32.45%

CALIFORNIA-IRVINE, UNIVERSITY OF

-31.44%

FLORIDA, UNIVERSITY OF

-30.65%

CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY

-24.20%

LOUISVILLE, UNIVERSITY OF

-23.81%

TEXAS AT AUSTIN, UNIVERSITY OF

-23.61%

Upward trends

  • 117 law schools had no change or increased matriculants from 2018 to 2019.
  • 48 schools had a double digit percentage increase in matriculants
  • Largest increase: New England Law at 89.7%
  • Runner-up increase: New Hampshire at 52.8%

Top ten largest percentage increases from 2018 to 2019

BELMONT UNIVERSITY

30.28%

SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY

33.17%

NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY

34.44%

NORTH DAKOTA, UNIVERSITY OF

35.48%

NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY

37.86%

SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY

40.74%

FLORIDA COASTAL SCHOOL OF LAW

45.00%

CONCORDIA LAW SCHOOL

50.85%

NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY OF

52.75%

NEW ENGLAND LAW | BOSTON

89.73%

T14+1

How are the elite stacking up?

aba 509 disclosures law school t14 2019 data

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The elite law schools had a dip like everyone else. And last year they were right at their 2011 levels. But this year things dipped a bit again. Generally speaking, broader trends affecting law schools don’t really touch the elite school.

Also, what’s up with Stanford? They keep a set number of students no matter what?

Closing Thoughts

The “Trump bump” was short lived. Sure more people are back at law school than a few years ago. But that growth is flat. If anything, I anticipate enrollment to begin to decrease again.

Why?

We are in the midst of systematic change to the legal profession. If you’re not aware of it – you’re not paying attention.

Sometime – maybe in the next five years, but certainly the next twenty – lawyers are going to play less and less of a role in many aspects of “legal practice.” In-house corporate departments have realized that they can control costs far better with their own “legal operations” departments; in which lawyers are only a small percentage. And now that model is trickling down to the rest of the industry.

States are exploring how to deregulate re-regulate the profession to allow non-lawyer equity ownership in firms, and relax the rules around UPL. Which means many law firms are no longer going to be lawyer-centered1Of course, good law firms are actually client-centered. In the above, I’m talking how law firms function operationally., but business-centered. There will be managers, designers, developers, and more. Legal services will be delivered through websites, apps, and services. Lawyers will only play a part of it.

Which, if you can’t put two and two together,2If you’re a lawyer, there’s a fair chance you can’t do basic math. means we’re going to need a lot fewer lawyers.


Want to talk about the future of the profession with other lawyers? LawyerSmack.

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