How will changes in law school admissions affect you?

By Hillary Mantis

If you haven’t heard, there have been some big changes in law school admissions lately. More are likely to come.

While all of these changes may not have affected this year’s law school applicant pool, they will certainly affect applicants in the coming years.

The LSAT has traditionally been offered four times a year, but starting in the 2018-19 cycle, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), plans to offer the test six times a year. It will not affect this admissions cycle, but those taking the LSAT in the future will have more choices and flexibility in terms of testing dates. Check the LSAC website for upcoming test dates.

There have been a number of other changes to the LSAT as well. LSAC is experimenting with offering the LSAT on a tablet, so that may turn out to be a future option for test-takers. They also removed the limits on the number of times you are permitted to take the LSAT exam in a two-year period.

 


Future law school applicants will have more options when the apply.


 

A big development in law school admissions is the acceptance of GRE scores in place of the LSAT. So far, just a handful of schools have announced that they will accept the GRE, including Harvard Law School, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. It remains to be seen whether other law schools will follow.

The acceptance of the GRE will certainly change the options for future law school applicants. For example, if you are applying to other types of graduate schools in addition to law school, you would be able to just take the GRE for certain schools. Along with the expanding LSAT testing schedule, it appears future law school applicants will have more choices about which test they choose to take. With a choice between the two entrance exams, will future applicants choose to take the GRE over the LSAT? This also remains to be seen.

 


LSAT Registration increased by 20% in June 2017.


 

Another change in recent months has been the increased number of potential law school applicants registering for the LSAT. After being flat for many years, more people are taking the LSAT and will presumably apply to law school. The June LSAT reflected this change, with an increase in registration of almost 20 percent from the previous year.

What does this mean for you? It may mean that we are entering a more competitive admissions cycle. The legal job market seems to be improving slightly, and there may be more future law school applicants. So, the bad news is that it could be more difficult to be admitted to law school. But, the good news is that if the legal job market, which has stabilized, continues to improve, there may be more employment options down the road for law school grads.

How will you handle all of these changes?

I recommend that you check in frequently with LSAC as they post new information on their website. If you don’t already have an LSAC account, now might be a good time to set one up. This is where you will find the official source of LSAT related information.

This is also a good time to attend the Law School Forum in your city. The Law School Forum travels around the country throughout the admissions season. The forum hosts excellent panels, and admissions officers from all over the country attend. It’s a great opportunity to meet the admissions staff at any law school that interests you.

Attending the Law School Forum also gives you to find out whether law schools that are on your list plan to offer the GRE admissions option, and if there are any other major planned changes. You can register for the Law School Forum on the LSAC site’s home page. I would also recommend that you set up an appointment with your school’s pre-law advisor if you are applying to law school soon (they usually work with alumni as well).

To keep track of all of the ups and downs in the legal job market, I recommend you check frequently for employment data on www.nalp.org, the site for the National Association for Law Placement.

If you are curious about the GRE, you can check out the differences between the LSAT and the GRE (go to www.ets.org for information about the GRE).

It’s an exciting time in law school admissions. It will take some getting used to, but all of the changes with the LSAT administration and possibility of the GRE as another option are ultimately good, in my opinion. These changes will give you more choices as you plan to apply to law school.

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Hillary Mantis works with pre-law students, law students and lawyers. She is the author of career books for lawyers, including Alternative Careers for Lawyers, and the Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University. You can reach her at altcareer@aol.com.