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LSAT Takers Surge: Are Law Schools Making a Comeback?

In the biggest jump up in seven years, nearly 8 percent more students took the Law School Admission Test last year than the previous year.

The Law School Admission Council reported that LSAT numbers increased 7.6 percent over last December, which represents the largest year-over-year growth in testing since December 2009. It was the third year in a row with an increase, after a 53.2 percent drop over the previous four years.

It may signal better weather ahead for law schools, where enrollments fell precipitously during the same time. Nationwide, law school enrollment dropped about 30 percent. Some law schools saw more than 50 percent decreases.

Signs of Plateau

Last year, enrollment reached a 42-year low, but there were signs of a plateau. Non-JD enrollments increased last year.

Jeff Thomas, an executive director for Kaplan Test Prep, told the ABA Journal that the "worst may be over" in terms of test-takers. He said there is also a "strong interest" in the test for February.

"We are describing this as a fragile recovery, which means some things can break along the way," he said. "We want to be cautious about saying this increase means a boon in interest in law school."

Testing the Waters

Prospective law students do follow the money, Thomas said. Last year, leading law firms raised rasied new associate salaries to $180,000.

Analysts expect attorney incomes to increase in 2017 as well. Robert Half Legal reports that legal professional salaries are expected to rise by an average of 3.6 percent in the coming years.

However, Thomas said, increased LSAT numbers may reflect scheduling changes and not necessarily more interest in the legal profession. He said the LSAT, which is administered four times a year, was rescheduled last year and many students opted to take it in December.

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