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Entering law school class smallest since 1973

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academy award

The ABA released 2015 enrollment stats today. A few high or low lights:

*Total first year enrollment this fall was 37,058, which is almost exactly the same number of 1Ls who enrolled in the fall of 1973. There were, however, 151 ABA-approved law schools at that time, meaning the average entering first year class had 245 students. Now there are 204 such schools, meaning the average entering first year class has 182 students.

*152,831 first years enrolled between 2009 and 2011. Over the last three years, total first year enrollment was 114,627. This is a decline of exactly 25%. Applicant totals were down 29.9%.

*Total JD enrollment this fall is 113,900. This is the lowest total since 1977.

*The last time fewer men enrolled in law school than this fall was probably 1962.

*This year’s Scamblog Sinverguenza Award — known affectionately to members of the academy as “the Cooley” — goes to none other than LGM favorite Steve Diamond’s Santa Clara Law School, which, undaunted by the raging dumpster fire that is the market for entry-level attorneys in California in general, and the Bay Area in particular, increased the size of its first-year class by an impressive 69%. It achieved this feat, in part, by becoming the newest member of the exclusive 75/25 club. These are law schools that have slashed admissions standards to the point that the 25th percentile LSAT for their entering class five years ago is now higher than the 75th percentile for their current entering class. A quarter of SCU’s 2010 entering class had an LSAT of 158 or lower, while today a quarter of the entering class has an LSAT of 157 or higher. SCU’s California bar passage rate fell by 22% between 2011 and 2014, and, given that the bottom quarter of the 2014 graduating class had similar credentials to the top quarter of the entering class of 2015, that percentage is likely to go a good deal lower.

Congratulations Santa Clara!

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