Take Advantage of a Smaller Law School Applicant Pool

The decrease in applicants and applications could be good news for those with a passion for law.

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Less competition could mean an easier time getting into top schools for applicants who are passionate about law.
Less competition could mean an easier time getting into top schools for applicants who are passionate about law.

If you are considering applying to law school this fall, you may have heard that the number of applicants has declined steadily over the last few years. According to the most recent data from the Law School Admission Council data, the number of applicants for fall 2013 decreased 15.9 percent from fall 2012 and the number of applications decreased 20 percent.

With so many potential students seeking other career paths, some may believe that in this economy law school is no longer a worthwhile investment. However, if you have a passion for the law and share my belief that it remains a personally and financially rewarding professional endeavor for many individuals, the law of supply and demand could work in your favor.

[Learn which law schools receive the most applications.]

Applying to law school today can be daunting especially given some recent reports from NALP – The Association for Legal Career Professionals and the American Bar Association about employment prospects and salaries. This is a concern almost certainly on any law school applicant's mind, as it should be.

I would agree that if there were no law firms hiring or salaries were plummeting, now would not be a good time to attend law school. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, long-term job growth for lawyers is expected to be 10 percent between 2010 and 2020.

While no one can guarantee that a recent law graduate will be immediately offered the job of their dreams, this is the same in many other careers and professions today. If you want to pursue a law degree today, the key is to get into the best school you can and negotiate the lowest possible cost.

A smaller applicant pool may suggest that a law degree must be less valuable than it used to be. However, a smaller applicant pool may be a reaction to the more challenging employment prospects for some law school graduates from lower ranked schools.

[Examine the financial picture before applying to law school.]

With fewer applicants and fewer applications to compete against, students increase their chances of attending a higher-ranked law school than may have been possible a few years ago, which in turn positively influences one's job prospects. Combined with the predicted job growth in the law industry and the retirement of baby boomers, attending law school now could be a promising investment if you are passionate about the practice of law or related fields, like mergers and acquisitions, real estate and special situations investing, where a legal background can prove invaluable.

Law school admissions will still be extremely competitive, and there is no guarantee that you will get into a particular school.

[Get answers about law school from experts.]

One of my clients at Stratus Prep with a 161 LSAT and a 3.93 GPA from a little-known undergraduate institution was accepted into a top 25 law school with a full scholarship. It is possible that with a larger applicant pool and a less well-crafted admissions package, he would not have been offered such substantial financial aid to such a selective school where his post-graduation job prospects are exceptional.

Overall, potential law school applicants should not base their decision to apply on what other applicants are doing. Instead, you should do your own research and learn more about job prospects, salaries, admissions rates, and how to stand out from other applicants to make an informed decision if law school is right for you.

Do you have questions about applying to law school? Let me know in the comments, email me at shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com, or contact me via Twitter at StratusPrep.