May 10, 2016Read More
After a long drought in J.D. application growth following the 2008 recession, student interest in law school rose to historic records in 2021.
The most recent incoming class cycle at U.S. law schools saw an almost 30% increase in applications over the previous year. 2022 volumes, while trending slightly lower, remain above historic levels. As of early March 2022, the number of law school applicants for the upcoming academic year was down about 10% over last year but over 8% higher than in 2020, according to data from Law School Admission Council (LSAC), which administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The J.D. market is so hot Jacksonville University in Florida plans to open the first new U.S. law school in eight years, welcoming its first class of about 30 students next fall.
The movement for racial justice, the January 6th Capitol insurgency and the unequal impacts of the pandemic have inspired young people to pursue a J.D. to contribute to justice and make society more equitable. A strong job market is another factor driving students to pursue law. Currently, law firms and companies with large internal legal departments are finding it challenging to hire lawyers. The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity recently reported that more than 90% of law programs offer graduates positive median returns, and a quarter yield a return on investment of more than $1 million over the course of a career.
Nationally, this year’s first-year J.D. class is the most diverse ever. More students of color are taking the LSAT in part because the LSAC has focused on making free test prep available for everyone. Notably, for the upcoming academic year, law schools received almost 16% more applications from Black and African American students and there were just over 16% more Hispanic and Latino applicants than in 2020. The LSAC is developing an undergraduate curriculum that could one day replace the LSAT for some students and has partnered with Khan Academy to offer LSAT preparatory courses at no cost. LSAC also offers free prep through Law Hub, its own online product.