March 2022 / Episode 5 / About 15 minutes
LSAC and Law School Transparency Join Forces
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. This month, in addition to our review of volume data, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to talk with two people at LSAC who will share some exciting news about the expansion of LSAC’s offerings through LawHub. But first, some data.
Here we are at the beginning of March, and based on last year’s final applicant and application numbers, we are over three-quarters of the way through this application cycle. At this time last year, we had seen 77% of the applicants and 80% of the applications we would see for the year. As you know, if you check our current volume summaries, applicants are down 9.8% as compared to a year ago, and applications are down 8.2%. However, if you compare this year’s numbers to where we were at this time two years ago, applicants are up 8.3% and applications are up a whopping 21.2%.
We’ve added two new pages to our current volume summaries on our website. One is titled “Five-Year Trends,” and the other is titled “By Location.” Let me talk about “By Location” first. This page provides state-by-state data, and province-by-province data for Canadian schools, on applications to and applicants from each state or Canadian province, including a comparison to the previous year. For applications to a particular state, we show the number of applications (if the state has three or more law schools), and we show the percent change from the previous year without regard to the number of law schools in the state. And for every state, we show how the percentage change for the state compares to the percentage change for the region.
For example, for the state of Alabama, last year at this time, there were 1,704 applications submitted to the three law schools in the state. This year, that number is 2,093, an increase of 22.8% as compared to an increase for the Southeast region, in which Alabama is located, of only 2.6%. Wisconsin has just two law schools. So, although we cannot show the number of applications submitted to those schools, we do show that 10.9% more applications were submitted to schools in Wisconsin this year than last year. And that compares to a 9.4% decrease in applications to schools in the Great Lakes region. With respect to the data on applicants from a particular state, regardless of where they applied, those numbers are shown for this year and for last year, along with the percentage change from last year to this year and the percentage change for the region.
Looking at Texas, for example, last year at this time, 4,699 applicants from Texas had submitted at least one application to a law school somewhere, as compared to 4,364 this year, a 7.1% decrease in the number of applicants from Texas in the context of a 7.5% decrease for the South Central region.
The “Five-Year Trends” page shows, not surprisingly, five years of applicant and application volumes by region, by LSAT range, and by race and ethnicity. This is where you can really see what an unusual year last year was. When you look at the numbers in almost any row of any chart on that page, you’ll see relatively stable numbers for applicants and applications to the 2018, 2019, and 2020 incoming classes. Some small ups and downs, depending on the region, or the LSAT range, or the racial or ethnic group, but pretty stable. And then, the dramatic spike we all saw last year for the class entering in 2020 in every category. And although this year’s numbers are down in most categories compared to last year, if we ignore last year’s spike — that is, don’t even look at last year’s numbers for a moment — you will see a pretty consistent increase from 2018 to 2022.
And certainly, if you look at applicants and applications for the 2020 incoming class and compare them to applicants and applications for the 2022 incoming class, you will see a significant jump. You can also see this visually on the three- and five-year volume graphs on our website, where the line for the current cycle is consistently above the lines for every year but last year. One additional thing I would point out is that although overall applicant volume is down 9.6% this year as compared to last year, the decreases are less for Black/African-American applicants, for Hispanic/Latinx applicants, and for Asian applicants. So, that’s where we are on applicant and application volumes with still some time left in this cycle.
Looking now at LSAT volumes, last year, for the eight LSAT administrations between July of 2020 and June of 2021, we delivered almost 170,000 tests. So far during the current cycle, we’ve completed five LSAT administrations and have delivered just under 99,000 tests. We have three more administrations this cycle, March, April, and June, and we anticipate somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000 more test takers across those three administrations, for a total of somewhere between 124,000 and 134,000 tests delivered during this testing year. LSAT dates for the next cycle have already been announced and are posted on our website for August of 2022 through June of 2023. For the coming year, the test will continue to be delivered remotely with the same three scored sections and a fourth variable, unscored section.
Let’s move to an exciting development here at LSAC. A few days ago, LSAC announced the expansion of its LawHub offerings through the acquisition of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing innovative tools that help aspiring law students make informed decisions about their legal education future. As LawHub continues to evolve into a legal education destination, the addition of Law School Transparency’s tools and assets will make it an even stronger source of information for prospective students considering law school.
To talk a little more about Law School Transparency, LawHub, and the impact of this acquisition in the legal education landscape, I am very happy to welcome LSAC’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer, Annmarie Levins, and Law School Transparency’s co-founder, Kyle McEntee, who, as a result of this acquisition, has joined the LawHub team as senior director for prelaw Solutions. Welcome to the Keeping Up to Data podcast. Kyle, can you tell us a little bit about the founding story behind Law School Transparency?
KYLE McENTEE: So, it started back in 2008, when I was applying to law school. So, I was having trouble deciding between a few schools, and Vanderbilt, where I ultimately attended, provided this great list of job outcomes. It was where everyone from the class of 2007 had the name of the firm, or government agency, or whatever employer it was, the location. And I looked at this list and said, “I can really see myself going to this school, because these are jobs that I can see myself in.” And I didn’t really know much about the legal profession. I didn’t know what jobs were out there. So, it really was a great source for me of learning about what lawyers do.
I started to talk to a friend of mine, well, now a friend, Patrick Lynch, who was, at the time, a 1L at Vanderbilt. And we said, “Why aren’t other schools providing this list of information? How do we get them to actually start to provide that information?” And so, we started to do our research. And ultimately, what we found was that law schools were publishing job statistics that were not as transparent as they could’ve been. And so, we endeavored to change that. Over time, after a lot of research and a pretty national policy strategy, we convinced the ABA and law schools to change the way they interact with applicants. Law schools changed their disclosure norms, and the ABA increased the amount of information that schools were required to publish and also prohibited certain types of deceptive information from being put out there. So, over time, we had this really tiny organization with this outsized voice. And then we decided, “Hey, how else can we apply this voice to problems in legal education and make a difference?”
SUSAN: I know that Law School Transparency is doing a lot more than you started out doing. Could you describe some of those other things?
KYLE: Yeah. So, it really started with describing the information that was out there — making people understand how it was incomplete, or not saying quite what they thought it was saying. And as we were able to push more information out into the marketplace, we were then able to take that information and organize it in a way that helped the student get from not knowing which schools to apply to, or where to attend, or how much to pay, to having a much better sense of what was going to be worth it for them.
And worth there is an enormously complex calculation for each individual. First of all, very individualized. It takes into consideration the short-, the medium-, and the long-term. There’s a financial component to it, there’s a career element to this, and there’s a personal life that you have to consider that you don’t give up on just because you become a lawyer, or at least you shouldn’t. And so, over time, we developed these tools that took the data, analyzed them, personalized the output, and ultimately is helping people decide, on an informed basis, should I attend law school? Which school should I attend? And how much should I pay?
SUSAN: Kyle, now that LST is a part of LSAC, can you talk about why LSAC is a good home for Law School Transparency’s tools and for you?
KYLE: So, I have a bit of a reputation for being honest and straightforward. I’m not going to let that change right now, but we, as an organization, really struggled through COVID. We had some huge plans for a platform we wanted to build to help prelaw advisors and prelaw students, and COVID changed everything. And so, we were really on the lookout for: How can we maximize our mission? And our mission is to make entry to the legal profession more transparent, affordable, and fair. And in conversation with the LSAC team, especially those in LawHub, we came to realize we had a very similar vision, and LSAC had the resources to help actually make that happen.
And here, I don’t just mean the financial contributions, although that is an important factor. Anytime you’re building technology, you need a team, you need operational support, you need customer support. But it is also about access to students. And LSAC has great access to students, and it has a great reputation among students. And now we have an even better opportunity to really turn that access to students into improved outcomes. And those outcomes start in prelaw, it goes right through the application process, into law school, and then in the early part of the student’s career, once they’re practicing lawyers.
SUSAN: Can you give us a few hints about what’s in the future for Law School Transparency through LawHub?
KYLE: Yeah. So, actually, as of today, you’re able to use your LawHub accounts to log into LST and take advantage of all our resources at lawschooltransparency.com. In the near-future, we’ll continue to have these integrations with the LST data and analysis, but we’ll also be porting over our podcast, I Am the Law, which is a show that helps people understand what lawyers actually do, so that way they don’t just watch TV and movies and read books, and think that describes accurately what lawyers actually do. But those podcast offerings will be available through the LawHub platform. And then, from there, you’ll just have to wait and find out. We’ve got a lot of fun stuff in store, though.
SUSAN: Great. Thank you. Annmarie, can you tell us: What is LawHub today?
ANNMARIE LEVINS: Sure. LawHub is LSAC’s platform for the end-to-end journey in law. We want to be the single place that serves everyone with an interest in careers in law, from prelaw, through law school, and into practice.
SUSAN: What will LawHub be in the future?
ANNMARIE: In the future, I hope it will be a one-stop shop for people interested in law. And I hope it will reach very early into people’s journey in the legal profession.
SUSAN: Why did we want to bring Law School Transparency in to be a part of LawHub?
ANNMARIE: Susan, that’s a great question. Law School Transparency offered so much for students as they tried to figure out what the best school for them was, what the best journey in law, what their path looked like. And we realized that they were fundamentally committed to the same things we were, which is diversity, equity, inclusion, making sure that everyone understands why it’s important to be a lawyer. And their commitment to diversity, and to accessibility, and to serving the needs of first-generation law students, and everyone, is so much in line with what we’re trying to do. We just thought it was a terrific opportunity for us to build on the work that we’ve been doing and incorporate what they’ve been doing into LawHub.
This is also very aligned with the acquisition we recently did of IFLP, the program in the modern law practice from the Institute for the Future of Legal Practice that we acquired right before the end of last year. As with the IFLP acquisition, what LawHub wants to do is provide resources throughout the end-to-end journey in law to make accessible to everyone tools and services that will make them more successful in everything they do.
SUSAN: Annmarie and Kyle, thanks so much for being with us today. I am as excited as anybody to see what’s in our future of LawHub and LST.
Thank you for joining us at Keeping Up to Data. We look forward to your joining our next episode, when we’ll continue to take a close look at the data from the current admission cycle and bring you an interesting interview, too. 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 LSAC.org.