Candidate Enrollment Survey

Executive Summary

Are most candidates still planning to attend law school in the fall? LSAC’s Candidate Enrollment Survey offers some early insights.

Updated August 5, 2020

Because of the COVID-19 health crisis, some aspiring law school students are now being forced to reconsider their plans. To gain a clearer picture of the fall 2020 admissions landscape, LSAC recently invited applicants to JD and LLM programs for fall 2020 to complete a second online survey about their law school enrollment plans. To date, we have received responses from 4,459 applicants: 4,114 (92 percent) to JD programs and 345 (8 percent) to LLM programs. A majority of both applicant subgroups (JD, 71 percent; LLM, 85 percent) reported that they had been admitted to at least one law school. 

Eighty-three percent of JD applicants and 40 percent of LLM applicants said that they definitely will (JD, 71 percent; LLM, 27 percent) or probably will (JD, 12 percent; LLM, 13 percent) attend law school this fall, while 12 percent of JD applicants and 54 percent of LLM applicants said they probably will not or definitely will not attend law school this fall. An additional 5 percent of JD applicants and 6 percent of LLM applicants said they were unsure about their plans to attend law school. Sixty-six percent of JD applicants and 37 percent of LLM applicants said that they had already submitted all deposits; 35 percent of JD applicants and 9 percent of LLM applicants indicated that they had already committed to on- or off-campus housing (these figures overlap).

Of the respondents who indicated that they had not yet submitted a seat deposit or indication of intent to enroll, the most prevalent reason (55 percent) cited by JD applicants was waiting on admission or waitlist decisions. For LLM applicants, the most frequently selected response (54 percent) was concern about traveling during the COVID crisis.

Respondents who did not indicate that they would definitely attend law school in fall 2020 were asked about the factors influencing their decision. Forty-five percent of JD applicants and 69 percent of LLM applicants indicated that they were worried about the effect of the COVID crisis. Sixty-nine percent of LLM applicants also said they would prefer not to take online law school classes for the fall 2020 term. 

For JD applicants, around two-thirds (68 percent) said their decision to attend law school in fall 2020 would not be affected if classes are offered online only. For LLM applicants, around one-third (35 percent) also reported that their decision would not be affected by online-only instruction. Seven percent of JD applicants and 35 percent of LLM applicants said they would defer their law school enrollment if classes are offered online only. Many candidates noted that they would need more information about the cost of online classes, but they expressed a preference for online instruction due to its increased safety. 

Sixty percent of JD applicants and 42 percent of LLM applicants said that they would not consider any alternatives to attending law school in fall 2020, including alternatives such as working or attending other graduate/professional school programs. Working was the most popular alternative, selected by 32 percent of JD applicants and 50 percent of LLM applicants. 

It is important to note that many international respondents wanted to know how schools would handle remote learning, since many were uncertain as to when or if they would be able to get a visa and/or travel to the U.S. 

It is also worth noting that 48 percent of JD applicants and 78 percent of LLM applicants reported having no student loans, and another 18 percent of JD applicants reported having less than $20,000 in student loans. A combined 70 percent of JD applicants and 74 percent of LLM applicants reported that at least one parent holds a bachelor’s or graduate/professional degree.

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