Law school applications up, causing shortage in available slots

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The number of law school applications this year is a whopping 28% higher than last year. That’s the figure reported by the Law School Admission Council, a nonprofit group that runs the test. It’s the most applications they’ve seen since 2011, and the huge influx is putting schools in a tricky position, with some even asking accepted students to defer.

The monumental increase could be attributed to a few factors, most of which are unique to the last year: working from home or simply out of work because of the pandemic; graduate school became a very attractive option; social justice and reform; among other things.

Of the 200 law schools tracked by the LSAC, 190 saw their applications increase, and the number of applicants boasting LSAT scores in the 175-180 range was double what it was last year. Not only that, but the number of people just taking the LSAT at all was also twice as high as last year, as of June.

Bloomberg reports that Harvard Law School saw more applications than they’ve ever received, so much so that the admissions officer routinely woke up at 5 a.m. to sift through all the applications. The school also delayed the start of admissions to January from December to help sort the applications. However, when it became apparent that the sheer volume would “shatter all the models” of their forecast, the school took a very conservative approach to admissions to stay within its target of 560 students.

Some schools, like Duke University School of Law and Columbia Law School, offered money to students who would choose to defer: $5,000 for students accepted to Duke if they also promised to attend the school next year and $30,000 for students at Columbia Law, as reported by the New York Times in June.

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