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Law School Enrollments Rebounding

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 18, 2017 2:59 PM

Law school enrollments are up nearly 12 percent nationally, with some schools reporting increases of 40 percent or more.

The number of applicants for the fall 2018 could reach 63,000 -- the highest in five years -- according to reports.

After a precipitous drop seven years ago, enrollments are still at their lowest in decades. But it looks like law school is the hot ticket now.

Law School Is Back

The Wall Street Journal says "law school is hot again," and attributes the big rebound to an interest in politics. With the drama unfolding in Washington, including the Russia affair, the travel ban, and battles over transgenders and sanctuary cities, students are tuning in and turning on to law.

Pre-law advisers say college students want to get into constitutional law, civil rights, and immigration.

"Virtually everyone talks about wanting to be an immigration attorney" Charles Davidson, director of the pre-law institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the Journal. "They're thinking about these things that have really come up in the last year."

In law schools, as in life, however, not all things are created equal. Nearly one-fourth of some 200 nationally accredited law schools have seen no change or a decrease in enrollments. Two schools have announced they are closing next year.

Law School Bottom Line

Politics aside, economics have a lot to do with enrollments. When the recession hit the legal market in 2008, interest in the legal profession dropped accordingly.

Declining enrollments took a toll on law schools, as educators looked for ways to attract students with more scholarships, lower admission standards and recently -- the Graduate Record Exam in lieu of the Law School Admission Test.

With law school debt declining and less competition this year, prospective students have started to come back to law school. U.S. News & World Report said there is perfect storm opportunity for them to get into law school now.

"For aspiring lawyers, this creates a window of opportunity to apply to law school when competition for a spot at a reach school is less intense than it is under ordinary circumstances," the magazine said.

U.S. News said the top 14 schools had a "slightly higher" acceptance rate, and lower-ranked schools' rates rose more than 20 percent last year.

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