Let's take a look at what's behind the numbers, and any potential ramifications.
June 2014 LSAT Figures
The Law School Admission Council released test taker figures for the June 2014 exam, which show that 21,802 students sat for the exam: That's a 9.1% dip from last June and is an overall 14-year low for the June exam. What makes it even worse is that there was a short reprieve in February, with a small increase (no matter because it was the first increase since 2010) for the February exam, reports The Wall Street Journal. Not only that, the June figure, which will apply to next year's totals, looms large after an overall decrease for the 2013-2014 term.
"For schools, it's a step backward after the glint of hope they got in February when the number of law school admission tests administered inched up 1.1% over the February 2013 total," says the Journal. One blogger echoes these sentiments, stating, "This June low bodes ill for the number of applicants next fall."
What It Means for Students
As my colleague Mr. Peacock noted in March, a dip in the number of test takers can actually be good for law students. According to him, and I agree, with fewer applicants applying to law school, your odds at getting into a better school have increased -- he calls it the "buying low" of going to law school. With the June figures continuing a downward trend, this will only increase your chances of getting into a better school.
What It Means for Employers
Well, it means what it has for the past few years: fewer, and fewer lower level associates -- and this is going to be a problem -- fast. Companies don't want to pay outside counsel to do junior level research at senior associate rates. Either companies will take their work in-house (which they increasingly are already doing) or BigLaw will have to start giving company's discounted rates (while they are paying senior associate salaries). Neither of these scenarios is good for BigLaw.
So what's the takeaway? Maybe I'm just a romantic, or plain naive, but I think if you want to be a lawyer, then you should go to law school, and not stress out now about finding a job. I wouldn't look at all the figures, and graphs as sign post dictating whether you should go to law school or not. Though lower numbers now may mean more opportunity later, there's also something to be said about going out there and making your own opportunities for yourself.
I Beg to Differ: You Can Do Anything With a Law Degree (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- 101 Things to Do With Your J.D., Besides Practice Law (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- Spend more time developing practice skills and less time advertising. (FindLaw Lawyer Marketing)