Law Schools Not Going Away Any Time Soon

By any measure, U.S. law schools have taken a few lumps during the past couple years. From lawsuits over graduates’ inability to find work to major declines in enrollment to sluggish hiring among major law firms, there have been plenty of reasons for prospective law school students to consider other professions. But the tide may be turning.

A recent article in The New York Times suggests that the declining enrollment figures at most U.S. law schools and reports of lower average LSAT scores during the past few years actually present an opportunity for those hearty enough to test the legal waters. Another potential boost for those considering a legal career is a proposal in Arizona to allow 3L students from the state’s three law schools to take the bar exam in February before graduation. In addition to making the graduation experience more of a career kickoff, the thought is that allowing early exams will make many students eligible for law firm jobs that are reserved for admitted lawyers – positions that are out of reach for 3Ls still waiting to take the bar exam. Leaders at the state’s law schools have presented their idea to the Arizona Supreme Court with predictions that other states may take the same path.

Closer to home, the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth recently announced that the school’s enrollment figures for 2012-2013 actually have increased over the previous year, making TWU the only Texas law school to record higher enrollment for the coming year. TWU is one of least expensive law schools in the country, ranking in the top five for cost savings among the nation’s 120 private ABA-accredited law schools. With plans for TWU to enter the Texas A&M University System next June, there may be even more opportunities for prospective Texas lawyers on the horizon.

Despite the predictions and suggestions of some that attending law school is always a bad idea, the country will always need trained lawyers as long as it remains a functioning democracy. The legal profession is not immune to market corrections or cultural shifts, though most lawyers think that the profession is relatively slow to adapt and innovate. There is no doubt, however, that 20 or 30 years from now, some of the top lawyers in the country will recall being told in 2013 that they were making a mistake by going to law school. 
 

Posted: 1/3/2013 1:56:44 PM by On the Merits Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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