By Erin Geiger Smith
Nov 28 (Reuters) - Just under 45,000 first-year students
enrolled in law school this fall, 9 percent fewer than 2011 and
approximately 15 percent fewer than 2010, according to
preliminary data released by the American Bar Association.
The ABA's final report, which will include official numbers
and more detailed data, will be released in the spring of 2013.
All ABA-approved schools must report their enrollment numbers
annually to the association.
The report follows news that the number of people taking the
Law School Admission Test in October dropped dramatically, with
fewer than 38,000 registered takers in 2012, down from more than
45,000 in 2011. The LSAT numbers were released by the test
administrators, the Law School Admission Council, which also
said that 16 percent fewer people took the test in the 2011-12
testing period than in 2010-11.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, law schools have been
criticized for admitting an increasing number of students, even
as the employment levels for graduates have fallen. According to
the National Association for Law Placement, the median salary
for a 2011 graduate nine months out of law school was $60,000, 5
percent lower than the year before. The employment rate for
those graduates was 85.6 percent, the lowest recorded rate since
The declining enrollment numbers represent "a pretty simple
market correction," said Kyle McEntee, the executive director of
Law School Transparency, a non-profit organization that has
pushed for schools to be more straightforward in reporting their
students' employment status. "(O)nce the employment data started
getting out there, you started seeing the crash in applications
but also in enrollment," he said.
The ABA will not break down enrollment numbers by school
until its final report but said enrollment at the majority of
law schools decreased. The association said 149 schools reported
a drop in enrollment from 2011, 48 reported an increase and four
reported no change. In schools that enroll fewer students, 90
reported a decrease of 10 percent or more.
Harvard Law School said its enrollment rose slightly this
fall, with 559 students entering the school, two more than in
fall 2011. The University of Texas School of Law said enrollment
dropped this fall to 309 from 375 in fall 2011. The University of Michigan Law School said the number of new students enrolling
in fall 2012 was 344, down from 359 in 2011. The three law
schools, among the largest in the nation, provided their numbers
(Additional reporting by Nate Raymond)
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