The NYT reports today that the number of people taking the October LSAT in 2009 represented a 20% increase over October 2008, for an all-time high. Law school admissions professionals quoted in the article think it's a delayed reaction to the economy:
"There's a bit of lag time between when people start to worry about the economy and when they get their applications going," said Wendy Margolis, director of communications for the Law School Admission Council, which administers the L.S.A.T.
Jeffrey S. Brand, dean of the University of San Francisco School of Law, echoed that view.
"I think the crash was so severe that people were kind of catatonic," Mr. Brand said. "They weren't sure what to do. They're coming out of that mode now."
Some schools are already reporting huge spikes in applications this season:
Officials at many law schools reported substantial increases in applications over last year. Washington University in St. Louis has had a 19 percent year-to-date increase in applications to its college of law. At the University of San Francisco School of Law, applications are up 35 percent over last year, and at the University of Iowa's College of Law, applications are up 39 percent.
Some increases are more explicable than others. Applications to the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University have risen 54 percent this year, which may be related to its rise in the U.S. News & World Report rankings to 23 in 2009, from 36 the year before.
But at Cornell University's Law School, whose ranking has remained relatively stable, applications are up 44 percent, and no one is quite sure of the reason for such a large increase.
Richard Geiger, dean of admissions, said: "I'm a little thrown off by the fact that our increase is much bigger than expected. There's nothing big we're doing to explain that kind of increase."
We're already fielding emails from people looking to apply in the 2010-11 season. Given the statistics in this article, it's not too early to start strategizing.
If you're one of many applicants who are looking at law school as a result of the terrible economy, please post a comment and share your story.
Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and a recovering lawyer, Anna Ivey founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process. Read more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions, recently updated and available as an e-book. Follow Anna on Twitter (@annaivey).