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Law schools enroll smallest first-year class since the 1970s

In 2013, law schools enrolled the smallest incoming class since the 1970s. The number of law school enrollees in 2013 was 39,675, which represents an 11 percent drop from the prior year. Figures from the Law School Admissions Council indicate that this decline will continue as law school applications have dropped eight percent since 2013.


In South Carolina, the numbers look a little different. According to Law School Transparency reports, the two law schools in the Palmetto State – University of South Carolina and Charleston School of Law — enrolled exactly the same number of students in 2012 and 2013: 387.

Other schools are facing more drastic cuts. At New England Law School Dean John O’Brien took a voluntary pay cut of 25 percent, because the number of first-year law students who enrolled at New England has decreased 40 percent since 2010. At the University of Massachusetts Law School in Dartmouth, only 78 students enrolled in 2013, an increase from the 71 students who enrolled the prior year.

Applications at Harvard Law School have increased, because more students who are scoring high on the Law School Admissions Test are applying to law school. Jessica Soban, assistant dean and chief admissions officer at Harvard Law School told the Boston Globe that “[T]he turn-around at the top of the pool shows that people who are serious about law school are coming back.”

According to the numbers, now may be good time to apply to law school as long as you do not apply to Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, because they do not plan to enroll a first-year class in 2014. An internal announcement from the law school obtained by Above the Law said “[A]s with most law schools across the country, Cooley’s enrollment and revenue have continued to decline. Despite our ongoing cost control efforts, it has become apparent that we must now reassess our costs, including our faculty and staff levels, in light of current enrollment.”

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