The number of admissions applications to law schools in the U.S. this year has increased 28% from last year, according to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Applications this year were at their highest level since 2011, and that’s creating difficulty for students facing more competition in admissions. It’s also complicating admissions for law school admissions professionals, which in some cases have resorted to asking accepted students to defer their admissions to a later semester or school year.
Part of this increase can be attributed to the traditional attractiveness of graduate school in an economic downturn, since the increase occurred during the pandemic’s plunge in employment number. But admissions counselors are pointing to other factors, including the social justice movement, a focus on policing and the justice system, the energizing effect of an election and, simply, and the spread of the coronavirus.
The scores on the LSAT also increased this year, over last, making the competition even stiffer for law school applicants.
The average annual salary for a first-year law graduate has increased to $205,000 at the larger U.S. firms, up from $190,000, where it sat since 2018. Many firms are also offering sign-on bonuses and other cash windfalls to lure attorneys into what’s often a punishing 100-hour workweek.