Here is the percentage of law school applicants who were admitted, over the last decade, to at least one ABA-accredited law school to which they applied, by year:
2013: 80% (projected)
The 2013 projection is based on the relation between the total number of applicants in this cycle and the total number of matriculants in the 2013 class, assuming an 8% reduction in the total size of the national law school class relative to 2012.
Keep in mind that somewhere around 3% of all law school applicants have the kinds of background issues that create serious liability issues for any school that admitted them. Another 5% or so have entrance qualifications (bottom 5% LSAT scores combined with 2.1 GPAs from bad colleges) that indicate their inability to do even basic college level work, and thus make it almost certain they will not be able to pass a bar exam, not matter how much remediation they are subjected to during law school (low enough bar passage rates could affect a law school’s accreditation). In addition, the average applicant applies to eight schools (there are 202 ABA law schools at the moment), and some significant percentage of applicants will, prudently, not apply to any school below a fairly high rank.
This in effect means that over the course of the last decade, American law schools have moved from a moderately selective admissions model to a quasi-open enrollment policy. If you have a college degree, can get 35 out of 100 questions on the LSAT correct (you are likely to get 20 right by simply guessing, and each year some people rack up perfect scores — it is not, in other words, a very difficult test), and don’t seem likely to go on a shooting spree, you’ll be admitted to a genuine ABA-accredited law school.
The long-term effects of this fundamental shift on the status of the legal profession, and more important, the quality of legal services available to non-corporate people, remain to be seen.