Keeping Up to Data: January 2023

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January 2023 / Episode 4 / Under 15 minutes

Perspectives on Digital Marketing

Welcome to the Keeping Up to DataSM podcast, a new space in which we discuss, analyze, and contextualize trends and perspectives in the current law school admission cycle by taking a deeper dive into the most up-to-date data and making sense of the complicated world of legal education.


SUSAN KRINSKY: Welcome back to Keeping Up to Data. I’m Susan Krinsky, LSAC’S executive vice president for operations and chief of staff. At the end of January, we have just over 60% of the applications we expect to see by the end of this cycle. So far, there are close to 36,000 applicants this year, as compared to over 37,000 last year. The number of applicants compared to last year at this time is down by just under 1,700 individuals. That’s about a 4.5% decrease. Just over 39% of this year’s applicants identify as persons of color, slightly more than last year’s percentage. Applicants identifying as female are down by 3.1%. Applicants identifying as male are down by 6.7%. And those identifying as gender diverse are up by 5.4%.

Overall, applicants identifying as female represent 56.3% of this year’s applicant pool. Looking at application volume, applications are down 4.3% compared to last year at this time. Sixty-seven schools are experiencing increases in applications, 119 are seeing decreases in application volume, and 12 are showing no change. The only region of the country showing an increase in application volume is the Midwest. As always, you can find the latest applicant trends and numbers on our website, which is updated daily, 365 days a year.

Next, I am delighted to welcome LSAC’s senior vice president for marketing and communications, our chief marketing officer, Melissa Harris Thirsk. I asked Melissa to join us today to talk about LSAC’s digital marketing strategy, a term that certainly didn’t exist at LSAC even five years ago. Melissa, welcome to Keeping Up to Data.


MELISSA HARRIS THIRSK: Thanks, Susan. It’s great to be here.


SUSAN: Melissa, what is digital marketing? And how is it used at LSAC?


MELISSA: Susan, people worldwide spend an average of seven hours a day online — checking email, texting, using social media, browsing the internet. And in the U.S., it’s even more. So we’re engaging with content and with each other through a variety of digital channels. As marketing and communications professionals, we want to understand where and how people are spending their time online, so we can reach them with information they may find useful. In the case of LSAC, we largely connect with our member law schools through email, webinars on our website, and of course, we always look forward to seeing each other at in-person events, like our Law School Forums, our Annual Meeting, and various workshops throughout the year. We also have many ways of connecting with prospective law students. In addition to the in-person events, which are so important, we use social media, the internet, our website, email, webinars, videos, you name it. We know from talking with prospective students just how incredibly busy they are and how much they appreciate bite-sized resources, those that are simple and geared toward helping them take that next step in their law school journeys.


SUSAN: What else do you hear from prospective law students?


MELISSA: We hear how much they are balancing, especially students who are less resourced and are going to school while working, maybe taking care of their family, sharing a family car or having to find other modes of transportation to get from place to place. It’s not surprising, but rather remarkable and inspiring, to learn that on top of everything, they’re often volunteering their time to help others in their communities. I find that this wanting to help others is what drives most law students today. And so I’m hoping we can help open access and ease the process of going to law school.

We also want to make people aware of helpful tools like the LSAT and free and low-cost resources to help them prepare and make very thoughtful decisions about if, when, and where to go to law school. As we know, law school is a rewarding experience, but one that requires a big commitment and sacrifice. And therefore, it’s important that people feel ready and equipped. Lastly, I’ll say that we hear questions like “Am I too old?” Or “I feel like I’m an imposter.” Or “I’m the first in my family to go to college and law school.” And so, applying to law school is overwhelming. And we say, “You’re never too old. You’ve got this. You can do this. And we’re here to help.”


SUSAN: Melissa, what are some of those important steps that a prospective law student needs to take? And how does LSAC help with that?


MELISSA: Well, the first step is often discovering law. From, we offer a range of discovery tools to help people get a feel for what they can do with a law degree, the various types of law and programs, what schools are looking for. We also share stories of individuals who are in law school or who have graduated and are working in the profession. We provide a wide range of stories from our blog, called Law:Fully, to help those who are thinking about law school see others like them, from similar backgrounds and situations, on how they successfully navigated law school and the law school process. The best place to start to gain access to a wide range of these tools and resources is LawHub, offered by LSAC. People can go to

The next step is usually trying to figure out what you need to do to get into law school — what law schools are looking for, how to pay, how to apply, and so on. Again, I’d encourage people to check out the great tools from LawHub and to attend the many free webinars we host throughout the year. The next step is often taking the LSAT, which is a great way to evaluate the skills one needs, determined by law schools themselves, to be successful in law school, and to evaluate one’s readiness in reasoning, writing, and reading comprehension. Preparing for and taking the LSAT is a helpful part of the process, and there are many resources available online. Once one has applied and has determined they’re going to law school, we can continue to help them through LawHub. We offer online programming to help people get a better feel for what law school is like.


SUSAN: As you know, we have member law schools who listen to this podcast. What should they know?


MELISSA: Yes, Susan. This podcast is another example of how we communicate digitally. They should know that we’re here to help and support them. They’re doing a great job at engaging and supporting prospective law students. So many people care, and they’re working tirelessly to help students succeed. I know this firsthand from working at a law school. It’s rewarding to now be at LSAC, engaging and supporting students on a national and global scale. As we know, all boats float, and we’re in this together. For schools who are just getting started in digital marketing, or for those who may want to grow in this area, we are extending our Legal Education Consulting services to offer digital marketing support. Schools should get in touch with John Miller at Or, Susan, they can get in touch with you or me or any one of us at LSAC. We’re happy to help.


SUSAN: How do we measure success in digital marketing?


MELISSA: Well, at LSAC, especially as a not-for-profit, we want to ensure we are always making good, responsible choices in how we spend our money. When we are leading a campaign — to encourage interest in law, to take the LSAT, to apply to law school — that we’re actually reaching people and that they’re actually taking that next step. So, one way to measure success is what we call return on ad spend. Typically, organizations see about a 3:1 or 4:1 return on ad spend, and we are seeing considerably higher than that. So we know our efforts are working and that they are optimized. And we’re always looking at ways to expand and reach even more people.

We’re also seeing increasing numbers of people visiting our website and taking that next step. Last year, more than 2.3 million people visited, and there were over 135,000 accounts created. Increasing diversity in the legal profession is also a key goal. We launched a Diversity in Law campaign about a year and a half ago, increasing awareness of LSAC resources among audiences who have shown interest in law and DEI-related topics. Since then, we’ve seen 20,000 people engage with us on that campaign alone. It’s wonderful to see the progress of our community overall. There’s so much work to do, as always, but we are proud that the incoming class of 2022 set another record. It is the most diverse class in history. More than 37% of incoming students are students of color, and more than 98% of the class took the LSAT.


SUSAN: How does LSAC approach the goal of maximizing attendance at a Forum, as opposed to, say, LSAT registration?


MELISSA: If we look at paid media, for example, we boost advertising spend as registration deadlines approach, whether it be for Forums or the LSAT. And then, of course, we scale up when we are launching new products and services. And that way, we’re able to be very cost-efficient in the marketplace.


SUSAN: Melissa, what’s next? What is the team working on?


MELISSA: We’ve got a great team of experts here at LSAC, and they’re always moving and shaking. One fun thing to do is ask Alexa questions about the LSAT or LawHub. That’s a newer addition. So, say, “Alexa, enable LSAC,” and then ask a question. We’re also experimenting with ways to communicate through digital TV. We’re creating more short-form videos to reach audiences on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook Reels. And we’re always doing this in ways that ensure high integrity and user privacy. We also appreciate hearing from our member schools, and from individuals who are interested in law, about additional ways we can support them. We love what we do, and I could talk about this all day long. So I appreciate the opportunity, Susan. Thank you so much.


SUSAN: Thank you, Melissa, for being here today. This is certainly one of the more interesting podcasts we’ve done. Thanks. To our listeners, thank you for joining us at Keeping Up to Data. We look forward to your joining our next episode, when we will continue to take a close look at the data from the current admission cycle. Until next time, stay well.


Thank you for joining us. Keeping Up to DataSM is a production of LSAC. If you want to learn more about the current law school admission cycle and the latest trends and news, visit us at

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