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More schools, fewer students

The laws of supply and demand may apply to legal education after all. Eight years ago, over 100,000 students applied to law school nationally, but this year, in the face of relentlessly downbeat news about the employment prospects for lawyers, applications have cratered. Only about 67,000 applicants are expected—but the number of accredited law schools is higher than ever.

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Student loans and blithe self-confidence prop up law school enrollments

The atmosphere in law school admissions offices these days is downright dreadful. Applications to law school are down 15 percent from this time last year, according to the Law School Admission Council, and down by a third from eight years ago. The projected number of law school applicants for fall of 2012 would be the lowest since 1996, when there were 21 fewer law schools nationally and 16 percent fewer seats to fill. If applications remain depressed nationally, it will raise acceptance rates or reduce the total number of seats at law schools—and maybe both. But experts say two factors are mitigating what would otherwise by an even steeper drop: federal student loan money, and students’ unerring faith in their own ability to beat the odds.

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Law school websites don’t score well for transparency

Like most of the country’s law schools, those in South Carolina and North Carolina stumble when it comes to reporting clear and accurate information about post-graduate employment on their websites, according to a new survey by the advocacy group Law School Transparency. The nonprofit policy organization issued the Transparency Index on its website ( earlier this month. The exhaustive evaluation is LST’s latest effort to cajole law schools into providing prospective and current law students with more realistic portraits of the economic conditions awaiting them after graduation.

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