10:32, June 13 406 0 abajournal.com

2017-06-13 10:32:05
Those with good LSAT scores may be choosing to forgo law school, data indicates

Law schools have been seeing fewer applicants with LSAT scores of at least 160, while there has been an increase in students with scores between 140 and 159, according to data from Paul Caron, editor of TaxProf Blog.

In 2016, there were 13,996 applicants with LSAT scores between 160 and 180, Caron’s data notes. In 2017, though, that number dropped to 13,345 — a reduction of 4.65 percent.

The biggest year-over-year drops were seen among those with the highest scores. The percentage of test-takers who scored between 165 and 169 fell 12.4 percent, while those who tallied between 175 and 180 plummeted by 23 percent.

“The story could be that better credentialed college graduates are turning away from going to law school, because they feel they have other opportunities that they feel are more attractive,” Caron told the ABA Journal. “For several years, legal education has taken a pounding. It’s not providing the kinds of opportunities it provided to students in the past.”

The percentage of students with scores between 140 and 159 rose by 2.88, from 32,438 in 2016 to 33,373 in 2017. The largest increase was seen among those who scored between 150 and 154 — 6.1 percent.

Another factor may be that more LSATs have been administered over the last two years after five straight years of declines, data from the Law School Admission Council showed.

In 2015-16, the test was given 105,883 times, a 4.1 percent increase over the previous year. In 2016-17, that total rose by another 3.3 percent to 109,354.

At Whittier Law School, which announced in April that it will be closing, its 25 percentile LSAT score was 144, according to its 509 report for 2016 (PDF), down from 149 in 2011.

“It’s kind of like the children’s nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down,” Caron says. “There aren’t enough applicants to go around. I can’t imagine that the elite law schools haven’t seen some deterioration in their applicant pools too.”

The 25th percentile score in 2016 at Harvard Law School, according to its 509 report from 2016 (PDF) was 170, down one point from 2011.

The University of Chicago Law School’s 509 report (PDF) showed its 25th percentile score last year was 166, also down one point from 2011.

Stanford Law (PDF), however, saw a one-point increase in its 25th percentile score from 167 in 2011 to 168 last year, its 509 report revealed.

LSAT scores are converted to a scale between 120 and 180, and are considered a good indicator of a student’s chance at successfully completing law school. Though there is no set failing grade, until seven years ago, no law school had an entering class with median LSAT scores below 145.