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Law School Applications Drop 14%. Will Tuition Follow Suit?

By Edward Tan, JD on April 12, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The bad news keeps on rolling in for law schools. Applications are down 14 percent this year, leading some to speculate that tuition drops may be in the future.

The total number of applicants at accredited law schools was down to 59,983 as of March 16, the Law School Admission Council reports. By comparison, the number was 78,500 in 2011, which was still down 10.7 percent from 2010.

Law school is a business. And it's the fresh crop of bright-eyed 1Ls that keep these institutions running. However, grim future projections from insiders could spell doom if law schools don't adapt by lowering tuition.

For prospective 1Ls, however, this news should be music to your ears. Tuition-wise anyway. Finding a new job after they get their JD is another story.

So far, there are no reports of any law school's dropping their tuition rates yet. But don't be surprised if they do.

That's because the low application numbers seem to be affecting all law schools, from tier one to tier three.

Loyola University Chicago and DePaul University, for instance, reported their numbers dropped 16 and 13 percent, respectively. The University of Illinois had an over 20 percent drop, its acting admissions dean said.

And even the big boys like Northwestern University and University of Chicago reported 4 and 6 percent declines, respectively.

A law school education today doesn't appear to be as great of an investment in one's future anymore. Ask any lawyer if they would've endured law school again sans the job security at the end and they'd probably say no. The hours spent studying, outlining, and being grilled by Socratic professors just doesn't seem worth it for most without the prospect of big money at the end.

Law schools know this. They see the writing on the wall and know that if they don't adapt, the problem could get much worse for them later on. And this most recent wave of low law school applications might signal the tuition drop prospective 1Ls have been waiting for.

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