New student enrollment at law schools is up 2.9 percent from 2017, according to ABA data released last Friday. The number of first-year law matriculants at 122 schools is the same or higher than last year, while only 81 reported decreased class size. Total law school enrollment is up 1.2 percent from 2017, and enrollment in J.D. related programs, such as LLM, masters, or certificate programs, also increased by 8.2 percent year-over-year.
The increased enrollment is not surprising given the increase in law school applications during the 2017 application cycle, 8 percent, which was the first significant increase in law school applications since 2010. While some schools have ended up with significantly larger numbers of admitted students, others have become more selective. Within the top 25 schools, according to the U.S. News and World Report 2019 Rankings, 24 saw an increase in applications and all but two reported lower acceptance rates for applicants compared to 2017. On average, the acceptance rate for the top 25 was 21.4 percent in 2018 compared to 24.5 percent in 2017. Despite the increased selectivity, most of the top 25 schools did have slightly larger first-year classes than they did the previous year, with increases ranging between 1 and 157 students.
A law.com article predicts, based on early indicators, that the application pool will continue to grow for the 2019 matriculating class. LSAT numbers in June and July 2018 were up 30 percent compared to 2017; a similar uptick in LSAT-takers in the summer of 2017 preceded the higher application numbers seen this year.
Find data from all ABA accredited schools here: http://www.abarequireddisclosures.org/Disclosure509.aspx