Texas legal educators are striving to recruit racially and ethnically diverse law students, but there’s one law school that’s excelling hand-over-fist compared to the others.
With 91 percent of its current students hailing from minority racial and ethnic backgrounds, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law takes the top spot when it comes to a diverse student body.
Texas Lawyer analyzed demographic data from the 10 Texas law schools and ranked them based on the percentage of minority students. Schools submit data annually to the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which is responsible for accrediting law schools.
PDF: One Texas Law School Is Doing the Heavy Lifting When It Comes to Diversity Efforts _ Texas Lawyer
The size of this year’s entering class at Texas law schools rose by 4 percent this year compared to last, but total enrollment numbers for 2017 still dropped by 0.3 percent.
Legal educators closely watch the size of the first-year class, since it has financial implications for a law school for the next three years. There were 2,199 first-year law students at the 10 Texas law schools in the Fall of 2017, which is 89 students more than the Fall of 2016.
PDF: Texas Law School Enrollment Outpaces National Percentage Growth _ Texas Lawyer
Enrollment in law school J.D. programs dipped a tad this year, but some unexpected good news provided a counterbalance.
While J.D. enrollment fell by 0.7 percent compared with last year, the numbers of non-J.D. students—studying for LL.M., masters or certificate degrees—grew by a whopping 20.5 percent, compared with last year, according to data from the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which accredits U.S. law schools.
That means overall law school enrollment edged up by 1.6 percent to 126,638, which is 2,010 more students than last year. That total is made up of 110,156 J.D. students plus 16,482 non-J.D. students.
PDF: Law School Enrollment Edges Up, with Surprise Spike in Non-JD Programs _ Law
Just in time for the new year, law schools have cause to celebrate.
As of Dec. 1, the number of law school applicants was up by 12 percent to 16,784, compared with this time last year, while the number of applications was up by 15 percent to 93,932, according to the Law School Admission Council.
Granted, it might be too early in the application season to declare a definitive upward trend for the next academic year, since around this time last year, only 27 percent of the total applicants had submitted their applications.
PDF: Law School Applications on the Rise _ Law
As more law schools accept a new admissions test from aspiring law students, debate about their motives and whether they’ll meet their goals of diversifying the applicant pool has swirled behind the scenes.
Law deans hope to recruit a new type of law student by accepting applications that use Graduate Record Examination scores, rather than the traditional Law School Admission Test. Law schools, eyeing the extremely large group of GRE test takers, have seen a potential to improve not only the gender, racial and ethnic mix of law students, but also broader metrics such as socioeconomic status, educational backgrounds and professional experience. Particularly, law schools, which have seen the number of applicants decline and LSAT scores fall, want students who have studied or had careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a cohort that statistically has been shown to perform well in legal education.
Meanwhile, critics of the GRE cast doubts about whether the test is capable of increasing diversity along racial and ethnic lines, and question whether schools are trying to fill seats while gaming the law school ranking system.
PDF: Can the GRE Cure What Ails Law Schools_ _ Law
A continuing surge in the number of people taking the Law School Admission Test this year provides another glimmer of hope to law schools that a drought in the applicant pool might be ending.
LSAT numbers have seen modest single-digit gains in the last two testing years, following a five-year decline in which the number of LSAT test-takers dropped by nearly 41 percent.
The trend upward is seen as welcome news for law schools—and the profession—since a bigger pool gives schools better odds for admitting more qualified applicants.
In September, 37,100 people took the LSAT, a 10.7 percent increase over September 2016. And in June, 27,600 people took the LSAT, a 19.8 jump compared with June 2016.
PDF: LSAT-Takers Trending Up Following 5-Year Plunge. Why_ _ Law
Not to be Debbie Downer, but numbers don’t lie—the legal job market in Texas isn’t getting better yet. However, data shows that law schools in Texas might have adjusted to the bum job market by declining enrollment, leading to fewer law graduates and new lawyers finding jobs.
The number of law school graduates in Texas has dropped by 10 percent over the past five years, and yet the employment and unemployment rates have barely wavered. This has led to 11 percent fewer grads finding jobs in 2016 compared to 2012.
Texas Lawyer analyzed five years of data that the nine Texas law schools submitted to the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The data shows law grads’ employment status within nine months of graduation, and the sectors where the employed grads went to work.
Published in Texas Lawyer magazine’s July 2017 issue.
PDF: A Look at the Current Texas Legal Job Market _ Texas Lawyer