It should come as no surprise that law school and graduate school applications are up for this year. At Cornell Law School, for example, applications are up 44 percent--and the final February 1st deadline hasn't even arrived yet! The application increases vary from school to school, and thus far no one has been able to pinpoint exactly why.
Interestingly, the surge in applications came later than some expected. University of Iowa College of Law Dean of Admissions Collins Byrd told the The New York Times
"I think people spent the past year in a bit of shell shock. I don’t think people applied at as high a rate because they just didn’t know what to do. They sat there and did nothing...Now they’re seeing what they can do, seeing if they can take out loans or mortgages on housing. I think people are coming to grips with reality.”
The application surge has been a long time coming. In November, Blueprint Test Prep blogged about the September LSAT: "On September 26th, more students took the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) than have ever taken a single administration of the LSAT in the history of the exam. Chalk it up to the recession, the economy, or the sudden increase in all things vampire. Whatever the reason, over 60,000 students lined up to take the first step to becoming a lawyer." It was clear this was going to be a big year for law schools.
But perhaps the bigger question is what are these future JDs going to do once they graduate? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does expect the law industry to grow again from now until 2018, but notes that most of the staff increases will be support staff (paralegals, legal assistants, etc.), not lawyers. We have yet to see what the legal job market will really look like in 2013--when these newly-minted JDs enter the work force--but the question of whether it'll be able to handle the flood of new lawyers is sure to be on everyone's minds until then.
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