LSAC Data: Round Deux

In a recent post we chronicled some of the recent goings-on in the law school and legal arenas. There’s more up for discussion this week, as LSAC released more concrete data on LSAT testing numbers and applications to ABA law schools. Of most intrigue is the breakdown of application volume changes according to LSAT scores. Here’s the data released by LSAC:

Particularly noteworthy was the clear divide between lower scorers and higher scorers. Higher scorers have apparently stopped taking the LSAT this year in much higher numbers than did lower scorers (and thus, we assume, have consequently delayed or abandoned their law school dreams). An author at the Atlantic had this to say: “So the smart kids got the memo. Law school is largely a losing game, and they’re not going to play, even though they can probably count on a better hand than most. Meanwhile, the number of laggards applying has barely budged.” (this, of course, in an article titled “The Wrong People Have Stopped Applying to Law School“).

Now, there is certainly truth in this statement. The numbers bear it out (absenting the pejorative use of “smart” and “laggards”). And the general sentiment that this is just another indicator of how far out of whack  law school application volume and the law profession pendulum has swung is to a degree valid. We, however, have a couple objections:

1) As we discussed previously, numbers can be used to arrive at various conclusions. The only thing we know for certain is that the numbers are down from last year. Whether this is “good” or “bad,” or positive or negative, or any other similarly binary qualification, is open to interpretation. We would say that given the steep declines, this may be a good time for certain applicants to throw their hats into the lot. With the lower numbers, law schools may be seeking candidates to fill their ranks, and may take a chance on candidates they might otherwise overlook in more swollen years. The point of this is that, when considering your law school future, don’t just rely on the bombastic proclamations of the world at large. Consider your situation in the context of your needs and the opportunities available.

2) Prep before you apply. It would seem from the Atlantic article that lower scorers are particularly singled out for criticism for even bothering to apply to law school. The author deigns to validate some of these students as necessary, but there is a point to be made here. One reason lower scorers are lower scorers is because they don’t often have the access to preparation opportunities available to higher scorers. The LSAT can be prepared for, and one’s scores can be improved. Not always dramatically, but often significantly. If lower scorers want to improve their LSAT lot, and their law school opportunities, they should investigate ways in which to secure preparation instruction. They should also not rush the LSAT and application process. Sometimes, more time and preparation is required to significantly affect LSAT scores.

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