LSU sees drop in law school applicants

Chancellor Jack Weiss (Source: Hebert Law Center)
Chancellor Jack Weiss (Source: Hebert Law Center)

By Kate Royals | LSU Student

While the years during the current economic recession have seen an upswing in law school applications, the number of students applying nationwide decreased drastically for the 2011-2012 academic year, including at Louisiana State University.

Law firms and other legal businesses have employed fewer people since 2007.

This application trend proved true for the law school at Louisiana State University, though factors other than the fact that law firms and other entities which hire lawyers have employed fewer people since 2007 may have played a role in the 2011 decrease.

Applications have increased steadily since 2007, according to Paul Hebert Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss. However, the 2011 year saw 210 fewer applications, or a 13 percent drop.

"In general in the last four years our applicant pool was increasing, and this year it declined. I'm not sure, however, if the decline was genuine or a function of an artificial (spike) in the 2009 recruiting year," he says.

While the number of applications has fluctuated over the past four to five years, the testing scores and GPAs of admitted students has remained the same.

"Our median (LSAT score) for this past year was the same as it was in 2010," Weiss notes. "On the GPA side, our median GPA went up from 3.38 to 3.39. The admitted student profile has gone steadily upward over the last five to seven years."

LSU's Law Center is ranked 84th in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report's 100 Best Law Schools report and is one of only nine public law schools in the South to be included in the ranking. The school's median LSAT score is 158. The score for the top 75th percentile is a 160, while the bottom 25th percentile is a 155.

Even though a Wall Street Journal article describes the legal arena as "one of the worst job markets for attorneys in decades," LSU law graduates report impressive employment statistics. The nine-month employment rates for 2008, 2009 and 2010 graduates are 92, 89 and 92 percent, respectively.

"The job environment for young lawyers is a "two segmented market," says Weiss. "The first is the small to middle size firm, and government and public interest jobs. The second is the major law firm market."

Second-year law student and Lake Charles native Jordan Taylor decided to attend law school after majoring in philosophy and anthropology at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. He enjoyed the logic class he took as a philosophy major and began to think about law.

"Part of my decision was financial. At the time, when I was making up my mind, my parents were going through some financial problems and I knew I wanted to be financially secure."

Though he knew the job market could be difficult for a young law graduate, he felt secure with his connections and previous work experience at home in Lake Charles.

"I knew I would probably be OK, and worst case scenario, I have some fall backs," Taylor explains. "But if I didn't have those connections, my decision may have been different."

LSU tracks the employment status of its graduates at the time of graduation and nine months after graduation when graduates have had time to pass the bar examination. The graduates counted as employed must be working in the legal field.

"The bottom line is that… our employment statistics have held strong," Weiss says. "I'm told by people in Career Services that their rough estimate of the employment of the class of 2011 is that it's running around the same pace (as the class of 2010), but we won't know for sure until February."

Number of LSU Law Center Applicants by Year

2007: 1,298 applicants

2008: 1,343 applicants

2009: 1,407 applicants

2010: 1,653 applicants

2011: 1,443 applicants