NEW YORK--()--Responding to the reality that the toughest job market for new lawyers in 20 years may be the new normal for the foreseeable future, law schools are taking unprecedented steps to course correct. According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of law school admissions officers*, 51% of law schools have cut the size of the entering class; 63% said the reason was the contraction of the job market in the legal industry. And more cuts may be on the way; of the law schools that have not cut the size of their entering classes, 28% say they will likely do so for the current application cycle.
“You can’t think about going to law school without thinking about how to pay for it. The good news is that law schools still understand how important financial aid is for prospective students”
The Kaplan survey also finds that 68% of law schools have already revamped their curriculum to make their students more “practice ready”; 5% say they’ve decided to so, but haven’t implemented the changes yet; 9% say they are considering making curriculum changes; and 18% say they have no plans to make curriculum changes. Among the curriculum changes some schools have made or are considering making: more clinical work opportunities and giving students more opportunities to specialize in a specific field, which can give them a competitive edge in a field that values specialization.
“With the supply of new lawyers outpacing the available number of positions for new lawyers, this is the most critical time for legal education in decades. Our survey shows that law schools are taking much-needed action to better prepare new lawyers for the changing job landscape, while at the same time accepting fewer students, as they know jobs will not be easy to come by," said Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep.
In some good news for applicants, Kaplan’s survey finds that compared to the 2011-2012 cycle, 47% of law schools have actually increased the amount of financial aid they have been able to provide students for the 2012-2013 cycle; 41% say they kept their level of financial aid at last year’s levels.
Thomas notes that law schools utilize financial aid as a tool to attract the best applicants to their institutions. This means that despite the decline in applicants, the competition for fewer numbers of coveted seats with financial aid awards attached may actually increase.
“You can’t think about going to law school without thinking about how to pay for it. The good news is that law schools still understand how important financial aid is for prospective students,” Thomas added. “It’s important to keep in mind that financial aid from law schools is almost always merit-based, not needs-based, so assembling a stellar application that includes a high LSAT score, strong GPA, well-written personal statement and compelling letters of recommendation is incredibly important. Now more than ever, being a highly competitive applicant may earn you great rewards.”
For more information about Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of law school admissions officers, please contact Russell Schaffer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.453.7538.
Kaplan will discuss more results from its 2012 survey of law schools with admissions officers from top law schools during a live, online event on Tuesday, November 27 at 8:30 PM EST. To register, visit http://blog.kaplanlsat.com/the-180-live.
* For the 2012 survey, admissions officers from 123 of the 202 American Bar Association-accredited law schools – including 15 from the nation’s top 25 programs, as designated by U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between August and September 2012.
About Kaplan Test Prep
Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.
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