With all of the recent controversies surrounding the number of jobs law school graduates are actually getting, the idea of going to law school is starting to become less appealing, especially when you start to consider the ridiculous cost of law school.
Now comes word that applications in this admissions cycle appear to be in something like free fall. As of December 7th, they are down 24.6% from the same time last year, while the total number of applicants has declined by 22.4% year over year. These numbers suggest that law schools will have a total of somewhere between 52,000 and 53,000 applicants to choose from in this cycle, i.e., slightly more than half as many as in 2004, when there were 188 ABA accredited law schools (there are 201 at the moment, with an emphasis on “at the moment”).
To put that number in perspective, law schools admitted 60,400 first year JD students two years ago. Since a significant percentage of applicants are unwilling to consider enrolling at any school below a certain hierarchical level, and/or will decline to enroll at certain other schools without receiving massive discounts on the advertised tuition price, these numbers portend fiscal calamity for more than a few schools. But out of that calamity will come the beginnings of a more rational and just system of legal education for the next generation of lawyers.
Things are going to have to change. Students don’t want to do into debt and then end up without a job. The entire notion is silly.
The third year of law school is often a complete waste of time. Law schools should take a serious look at finding ways to give students internships for the third year where they can learn how to actually practice law while making money to pay for their tuition.