Law School Update: Selectivity Suffers As Schools Struggle To Fill Seats

March 10, 2014

Law School 3Soon, Large and Midsized law firms may not have the options they once did when it comes to hiring new attorneys.

Recently released data suggests that nationwide, law schools are becoming less selective about whom they admit.

Thanks at least in part to the dismal news about employment prospects, students seem to be avoiding law school. That has put pressure on law schools (which, not so long ago, were profit centers for universities) to fill their lecture halls somehow.

One side effect of this new need to attract students: The average median LSAT score declined between 2012 and 2013.

The decline in median LSAT score differed across U.S. News “tiers” of law schools. Among Top 50 schools, it was .98. For schools ranked between 51 and 99, it was 1.18.  Schools between 100 and 144 saw a .72 decline, and “schools ranked alphabetically” saw a dip of 1.13.

At some individual schools, the selectivity is concerningly low. Florida Coastal School of Law’s 2013 class, for example, had a 25th percentile LSAT score of 138, meaning 90 percent of LSAT-takers performed better.

Now, to ward off the risk of alarmism, let us take a step back: LSAT scores overall fluctuate from year to year, and no one would suggest that the LSAT is the only way to measure a person’s intellectual capacity. In the case of Florida Coastal, the school could value other criteria more than LSAT scores.

That being said, if LSAT scores are declining and enrollment is dropping, then it seems the pool of future lawyers that results from this newly tough era for law schools might be shallower than law firms are used to.