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Law school first year enrollment lowest since 1973 (and other assorted data points)


The ABA has put up 509 disclosure forms for 2014. A few preliminary tidbits for possible discussion:

(1) ABA schools enrolled 37,924 1Ls this year. This is the lowest total since 1973, when there were 26% fewer ABA law schools, and student-faculty ratios were approximately 35 to 1 (they were 13.6 to 1 last year).

(2) LSAT scores for low-ranked schools continue to plummet to heretofore unprecedented depths. Not surprisingly, the Infilaw schools are once again leading the way, with Charlotte recording an astounding 142 median LSAT score for its entering class (17.8th percentile) and an even more eyebrow-raising 138 for the class’s 25th percentile. This means that a quarter of the entering class scored somewhere in the bottom ten percent of all LSAT test takers (To score in the 10th percentile of the test, you have to get 34 of 100 questions correct, on a test where answering randomly will produce on average 20 correct answers. Another way of putting this is that people with 138 LSAT scores are answering about one of every six questions correctly, excluding random effects. This is on a test where a few people record perfect scores every year, and thousands of test takers answer at least five of every six questions correctly.)

(3) This year’s 509s include much more information regarding transfers. In this regard, Washington DC law schools reveal legal academic nature red in tooth and claw: American lost 100 1Ls (more than a fifth of the class) to other law schools, with George Washington alone taking 54 American transfers (Georgetown took another 13). A startling aspect of this crosstown traffic is that the median 1L grades of the transfers George Washington accepted were barely above the median 1L grade curve at American, which appears to mean that GW took any American 1L in the top half of the class who applied for transfer. The median LSAT for 2013 GW matrics was in the 92nd percentile, while American matrics were in the 71st, which illustrates how the transfer system is the equivalent of money laundering as applied to academic credentials (only the LSATs of 1L students count for rankings purposes.)

(4) An even more flamboyant example of this game is provided by the hostile symbiosis between Arizona State and yet another Infilaw outfit, Arizona Summit. ASU took 66 transfers, meaning that more than a third of this year’s 2L ASU class spent their first year of law school somewhere else (last year’s ASU 1L class was only 128 students). Exactly two thirds of these transfers — 44 — were escapees from Arizona Summit. Median LSAT for 2013 ASU matrics: 86th percentile. Median LSAT for 2013 Arizona Summit matrics: 23rd percentile.

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