Enrollment in law schools across the country has been steadily dropping for several years. Between 2010 and 2014 the size of first year law school classes dropped approximately 28 percent. Law schools are dependent on tuition revenue, so with class sizes dropping many institutions are beginning to feel financial pressure. The steps law schools take to account for this could have a significant impact on the future of the legal profession.
Law Schools Acceptance Rates
Law schools could make one simple change which would result in a large increase in tuition revenue. They could lower acceptance standards. Standards would not have to change dramatically, but a reduction would have to occur. They could consider applicants with lower LAST scores and lower undergraduate GPAs. However, before they do this, law schools must consider the implications of lowering their academic standards.
Students attend law school for one specific reason – they want to become attorneys. However, before that can happen, they have to pass the bar exam. Bar exam pass rates also reflect on the quality of the law school. Higher regarded law schools have very high pass rates. If law schools lower the academic standards for acceptance, they may end up facing decline bar pass rates a few years down the road. Individuals who score below 150 on the bar exam are categorized as “high risk” for failing the bar exam.
Put into Context
Law schools increasing acceptance rates in response in financial pressure could have far reaching implications. First, if students attend law school but prove unable to pass the bar exam, they will be saddled with massive student debt and have no feasible way to pay it off. This could create an even more precarious economic situation than before! Additionally, there could be a reduction in the overall skill of those practicing law. However, it may come to pass that law schools will be perfectly able to prepare students to pass the bar exam. Only the future can tell. We will have to find out!