The number of students considering law school has plummeted in recent years – and the trend is expected to continue.
According to the Law School Admission Council, fewer students took the February 2012 LSAT than at any time in the last 10 years. The number of LSATs administered during this period dropped a whopping 16 percent.
These are real numbers, and they reflect a new reality: to wit, young people are not falling over themselves to do what we do.
Some of the reasons are obvious: a down economy, a flattening of the legal job market, and the rising price of a legal education.
But there are other reasons lurking below the surface. One is the desire for instant gratification. In this accelerated age of information technology, fortunes can be made overnight – from your college dorm room. Why waste three years in law school and many more years working your way up the financial ladder when riches and fame might be available right now?
Another reason is less cynical. Sociologists have observed that young people are taking more time before making Major Life Decisions such as marriage or professional schooling. They are proceeding along their path with prudence and deliberation – qualities that will serve them well if and when they decide to go to law school.
And it might well be that a winnowing process is taking place. Those who are opting not to take the LSAT might be the ones who were not fully committed in the first place.
The big mistake, however, would be to view these numbers with clinical detachment.
Less than 130,000 people signed up for the LSAT this last cycle. That’s the lowest level since 2001. It is in our interest to attract the best and brightest to our profession. We have a duty to leave the law better – and more appealing as a career – than when we entered it.
That starts today – with the next letter you send, the next phone call you make. It starts with your next case. It starts by being the sort of lawyer others aspire to become.