As an attorney recruiter, my day always consists of sorting through resumes to discern those that meet my firm clients’ hiring criteria. Several factors come into play – particularly choice of law school, class rank and experience.
This morning I read a fascinating article about how law schools are coping with reduced enrollments. Whereas previously students often graduated with huge loans, typically in the $120K-$200K range, many law schools now are making enormous concessions in order to keep enrollments rising and pre-admitted students committed to attending.
The National Law Journal posted the article, written by Karen Sloan, entitled “It's A Buyers' Market at Law School,” offering examples of these concessions. For example, students who are suffering from the challenging economy sometimes want to defer attendance for one year. Previously, when law school classes were jammed, the schools might have asked for a deferral. Today various laws schools of all tiers are finding that it’s not business as usual.
“Law schools experienced a 25 percent decline in applicants nationwide during the past two years, due in part to the tight job market for new lawyers and a more widespread understanding of the high costs of attending. Many have responded by accepting a larger percentage of applicants and sweetening their scholarship packages, in hopes of locking in prospective students… With law classes undersubscribed and applicant commitments coming later in the game, scholarship money has come into play more than ever before.”
The competition is fierce. When a student tried to withdraw from one law school to attend University of Michigan Law School [ranked No. 10 by U.S. News & World Report], the first school sweetened the pot. “We'll double your scholarship or give you a free ride.” Reports Sarah Zearfoss, Assistant Dean for Admissions, University of Michigan Law School.
Additionally, lower-performing students are being enticed with scholarships and/or access to higher ranking schools than were ever possible for them to consider before.
"They don't shine as much and they're getting 50-, 75-, and 100 percent scholarships," Uradnik said. "It's essentially a free-for-all. It's almost like selling yourself to the highest bidder. Everybody is competing." Kathy Uradnik, a political science professor and prelaw adviser at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota
It wasn’t too long ago that many people seemed to think that there were too many lawyers graduating each year. The tables have turned, but it is unlikely that this trend will last long. Law Schools require huge endowments to stay in business. Certainly, it appears this is a golden opportunity for aspiring attorneys to obtain a law degree at an accredited school without breaking the bank.