Law school sees application fall

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Photo by Joy Chen.

Like its peers across the nation, Yale Law School has seen a drop in applications this year.

Yale Law Director of Public Affairs Janet Conroy said that as of the application deadline date March 1, applications to Yale Law were down 16.5 percent, from 3,797 applications last year to 3,172 this year. This decrease is consistent with the national trend, said experts at the Law School Admission Council and admissions officers at top law schools. Conroy said Yale Law administrators are not concerned about the decrease.

Yale Law School saw a 16.5 percent drop in applications this year. But Director of Public Affairs Janet Conroy says the decrease is not worrisome.
Yale Law School saw a 16.5 percent drop in applications this year. But Director of Public Affairs Janet Conroy says the decrease is not worrisome.

“The bottom line is that our volume this year is within our normal historical range, so we’re not worried,” she said.

Conroy added that this year’s drop in applications followed a spike last year, in which the school received its highest number of applications in 14 years. She added that she cannot speculate as to why the number of applications has fluctuated from last year to this one.

The drop in law school applications may be a result of recent media coverage of the bleak job market and crippling debt that await law school graduates today, said Wendy Margolis, Director of Communications for the Law School Admission Council, which administers the Law School Admissions Test. The media frenzy peaked with a January New York Times article, “Is law school a losing game?,” which emphasized the growing unemployment rates among law school graduates. Kelly Voight, the executive director of Yale Law’s Career Development Office, told the News at the time that nearly all Yale Law graduates continue to find employment despite the weak economy.

Yale Law’s dip in applications is consistent with national trends: Margolis said that as of March 18, the average decrease in applicants sits at around 11 percent nation-wide. Students are also applying to fewer schools, as the Council learned from an 11.6 percent decrease in paper applications also reported March 18. However, Margolis said these numbers could change, as the council only has 89 percent of the national data at this time.

“Applicants and applications were up quite a bit in the mid first decade of this century, but this is correcting itself now,” Margolis said. “People are giving [their futures] more consideration before applying.”

Still, she said law school remains a good investment for people who truly want to pursue a legal education and have plans for dealing with debt accrued from tuition.

Two law schools contacted also reported a decrease in applications this year — Duke Law School saw a decrease of 20 percent, while The University of Chicago Law School saw one of 14 percent. Judith Romero, associate director of media relations at Stanford Law School, said Stanford’s applicant pool has fluctuated but they do receive 4,000 applications each year.

William Hoye, associate dean of admissions at Duke Law School, said he thinks concerns about the economy are at least partly responsible for the fall in applications, adding that students may also be becoming more selective in choosing where to apply.

He added that despite the decline in applications to Duke Law, the school is still seeing the third largest applicant pool in its history.

Although three Yale Law students interviewed were aware of the national decrease in law school applicants, they were surprised to hear that applications were down at their school, which is ranked number one in the country by the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

“Yale has been sort of immune from the horror stories we hear every week about law school,” said Taylor Asen LAW ’12. “But given how many articles there have been about how many jobless law graduates there are, it is no surprise that people aren’t flocking to law school like they used to.”

This year, Yale Law extended its admissions deadline from Feb. 15 to March 1, though Conroy said she did not know how many applications were received after the original deadline or if the extended due date will be used in future years. Decisions will be released by mid-April.

Correction: April 2, 2011

Due to incorrect information provided to the News, the article “Law School sees application fall” reported that the University of Chicago Law School’s decrease in applications this year as 12 percent. In fact, applications fell 14 percent. The article also misrepresented Judith Romero’s statement. She said there were in fact fluctuations from year to year in Stanford’s applications, although they do typically receive 4,000 applications each year.

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