Friday, February 16, 2018

Law School Applicants Update 2018

A quick update:  we are 12 weeks into the new application cycle, and according to LSAC applications are up approximately 10% from last year.  When you look at the data closely and compare "Week X" last year to "Week X" this year, however, it is closer to 1-2% by my review.  In fact, Week 12 is falling on essentially the same value for last year and for 2014 prior.  It is still not clear how LSAC is doing their supposed apples-to-apples comparison, but that will remain a mystery, I guess.

Because I am a self-professed data wonk, I also noticed that the applicant data tends to follow a very particularized curve very well, better than the polynomial functions I used previously (the logistic function, for anyone who is interested).  For example, when you look at 2017, it's pretty easy to get a near 1.0 r-squared value for "goodness of fit," and this makes experiential sense - applicant count starts off, accelerates for a while, and then tapers off later in the cycle.

The only reason this matters, in my book, is that I like to look at the rate of change of applicants in each cycle.  In my opinion, this is a proxy for "applicant enthusiasm", and is a better indicator that percent change from year to year.  If the rate of change spikes quickly and is sustained ("Applicant Velocity"), you get a high applicant count at the end of the cycle. (e.g. 2012).  If the rate of change is slow and lethargic (e.g. 2016), then people aren't applying in droves and the law schools are keeping the application window open longer to get the trickle of applicants to get up to prior-year levels.

I've included a prediction for 2018 based on the data so far, and it looks as though 2018 is basically shaping up to be 2017 all over again.  How this is 10% higher than last year is still not apparent, but "enthusiasm" seems to be back at 2014 levels.  We haven't seen 2011-2013 levels of applicants, or applicant rates, for several years now.  One can only hope that most people are getting the message, and only those who really, really, really, want to got to law school are doing so.  Anything to help correct the legal graduates market has to be a good thing, except perhaps for the law schools themselves.


  1. Here is hoping the predicted 10% increase in applicants does not materialize. I know that the scammers at AALS and LSAC are gloating over the prospect.

  2. It's impossible to have sympathy for these people. The class of 2012 I think is the very last one that had an excuse, and even that was weak, as they should have just dropped out or cancelled with all the information widely promulgated from 2009-2011.

  3. To Dybbuk:

    It is very sad that applications are increasing. Hopefully the prosper act passes.

    Nonetheless, I had 10 on campus interviews to become a Public Defender like you and I was rejected by all of them.

    There is one particular Public Defender here in my great state who is a big Trump guy. All politics aside, the irony of a Trump guy being an elected Public Defender is something else.

    I remember during my interview this guy literally stands up 15 minutes and goes, "our time is limited" and shows me the door. Like i'm some beggar coming to work for him for $40,000 a year. What is $40,000 when you must pay $250,000 in student loans.

    And then some of these big time public defenders say well just do the 10 year PAYE (indentured slavery). Fuck that shit.

    I knew 2 public defenders who were driving Uber on the side because their student loans were obviously too much for them to handle on their pathetic salary. I'm not lying.

    To future law school applicants, this isn't fake news. I've lived it. Be warned.

    1. You could have made 40,000 (or very close to it) right out of college. And, you would have gotten promotions that put you well ahead of where you are now, three years after graduating college and attending Law School. In Maryland, in 2018, if you want to be a Public Defender, go to Georgetown Law and graduate at the top of your class. That is reality in 2018.

  4. I'm doing my part.

    I tell anyone who asks what happened to me and I do my best to gently discourage snowflakes from applying. But a lot of them refuse to be deterred. At least the data is all out there and you can go to blogs like this to get the facts.