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Overall enrollment in U.S. law schools increased from 49,552 in the academic year 1963-1964 to 110,951 in the academic year 2016-2017. Despite this overall increase, law school enrollments have actually decreased from a decade ago, thanks in part to the Great Recession that began in 2008 (Delmore, 2017).

Although still more people apply to law school than can be accepted, about 70% of all applicants are accepted in at least one school. Admission to law school is very competitive. The higher the reputation of a law school, the greater is the competition among students for the number of places. There are annual rankings of law schools by a number of popular magazines, perhaps most notably U.S. News & World Report. The status of a law school is related, to an extent, to the placement of its graduates. Graduates of law schools attached to elite colleges and universities (for example, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Chicago) are more likely to be employed in large law firms, whereas graduates of less prestigious law schools are more likely to be found in solo practice. The elite Wall Street firms have been most educationally selective in this regard, choosing not only from Ivy League law schools but also from a group whose backgrounds include attendance at elite prep schools and colleges, as Smigel (1964) observed in his influential study of these firms. Moreover, lawyers graduating from high-status law schools typically do not practice in the lower-status specialties of criminal, family, poverty, and debtor- creditor law.

Admission to law school is determined to a great extent by the combined scores of grade point averages in college and LSAT scores. Virtually all law schools also require that applicants submit the law school data assembly service report, a summary of their college transcript that the Law School Admission Council/Law School Admission Services prepare. The LSAT is a one-half-day standardized test. It consists of several sections of multiple-choice questions designed to measure the ability to read with understanding and insight, the ability to make logical deductions from a set of premises, the ability to evaluate reading, the ability to apply reasoning to rules and facts, and the ability to think analytically.

Despite the LSAT’s influence on law school admissions, questions have been raised concerning the extent to which it can predict success in law school. Performance criteria of success in law school have traditionally been, and continue to be, grades obtained in formal course work. Some studies suggest that the LSAT average predicts law school grades rather poorly (Leonard, 1977). Despite these questions, all law schools require it as part of the admission process.

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