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LSAT Scores Down: Where Are Top Performers Going?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 14, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

What's that giant sucking sound coming from law schools?

Is it the sound of fewer students enrolling? No, that alarm has been ringing for seven years now.

This is more like a whoosh from a vacuum of top students leaving for other graduate programs. At least, that's a conclusion from statistics showing a big drop in law school applicants with the highest law school admission test scores.

LSAT 175 to 180

Paul Caron, editor of TaxProf Blog, says the number of applicants with LSAT scores between 175 and 180 dropped 23 percent last year. It is the biggest drop in any group of the test takers in almost two decades.

"The story could be that better-credentialed college graduates are turning away from going to law school, because they feel they have other opportunities that they feel are more attractive," Caron told the ABA Journal.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to put the numbers together: law school enrollments down; top students are out; legal education is in trouble.

"For several years, legal education has taken a pounding," Caron said. "It's not providing the kinds of opportunities it provided to students in the past."

Other Numbers

With the high cost of education, students are going where the money will be. They want the best jobs -- at least enough to pay back their student loans.

The law is not the same road to riches it used to be -- medicine owns the road now. A few years ago, more top students were going to law school.

Harvard, Yale, and other top tier law schools routinely attracted more post-graduates than other programs there. Today, not so much.

"I can't imagine that the elite law schools haven't seen some deterioration in their applicant pools too," Caron said.

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