The past decade has left many law schools lamenting, "Where have all the law students gone?" Whether the six-figure cost or the tough job market is to blame, the drop in applications was significant. However, new data reveals the trends in law school attendance might be a little more complex.
The Law School Admission Council's data on law school application volume for the 2019-2020 school year provides some interesting insight into who is applying for law school, and why.
Although 109 law schools in the U.S. reported a decrease in volume of applications, 84 found their number of applicants increased - and the difference seems to come down to geography. New York carried the Northeast's uptick in applications, while D.C. schools saw the biggest increase (up 5.4% from last year). Students might be flocking to these schools because they are near hubs of business and government, making their chances of high-paying employment a bit higher than in other areas.
Although law school applicants are still overwhelmingly white, we did see a continued increase in the number of Asian and Latino/Hispanic applicants. Plus, the number of female applicants stayed strong, making up 53% of applications in the 2019-2020 cycle.
But maybe not as large a role as we thought. Law school applications spiked following the 2016 election as the political climate brought more and more issues into the nation's highest courts. The 2019-2020 application cycle saw a decrease in the number of applications, but the numbers suggest that it might be because prospective students are applying to fewer schools. As the law continues to make headlines, more people may see being a lawyer as their way to make a difference.