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In high school, whenever a class did badly on a test there was hope for a curve to make the results look better. Sometimes it would work, other times not so much. Today law schools have been dealing with a similar issue. The number of law students has been shrinking.
So how are they dealing with it? – Lowering the bar for students to get in the schools.
According to an article by InsideHigherEd, we are forced to ask the question “Is law school inferiority a symptom of the shrinking number of law school students?”
As the numbers continue to drop, more schools are fighting for those “undesirable” students, these students with the lower undergraduate grades and LSAT scores. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, the largest law school in the country, is well-known for taking in these kinds of students, had seven other law schools have entering classes with lower median LSAT scores than theirs’ last fall.
Five years ago, the American Bar Association had zero entering classes that possessed a median LSAT score less than 145, however this year that number stood at seven.
According to Moody's Investors Service, despite there being 53 more law schools open now, the enrollment at ABA-accredited law schools are experiencing the lowest enrollment since 1973. That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of students trying to get into law school, but the students that are still trying have lower test scores than past years. As a result, many law schools are not only shrinking their size, but the students that are being admitted are less-qualified.
Jerome M. Organ, a professor at University of St. Thomas School of Law, compiled work which showed 136 law schools had a median LSAT score of 155 or higher in 2010. Now, that number of school that fall within that same category has dropped to only 101.
Don LeDuc, the president and dean of Cooley, said the school’s level student profile is a result but not the intent of admissions policies that have remained virtually unchanged despite the shocks in the market.
LeDuc said Cooley is facing more competition for students with LSAT scores of around 145.
Cooley uses a predictive model to tell all students their chances of success based on their GPA and LSAT. In the end, the school doesn’t admit anyone that has less than a two-thirds chance of succeeding. By approaching it this way, students are made aware of the potential uphill battle they have in store for themselves. This mindset can be helpful to many students; however the idea of “how good are my chances for succeeding?” may not be as clear at other schools.
The dean of Charlotte School of Law, Jay Conison, said his school does not clearly tell students their chance of success, but that their advisers tell students what they will have to do to succeed.
Read the entire article here.
So what do you think? Do you think that lowering standards is the right thing to do just to increase a school’s enrollment? Are enrollment numbers more important than reputation?