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America's nosediving law-school applications: By the numbers
The number of students trying to get into law school is declining sharply as tuition and student debt rise while job openings dwindle
 
Applications submitted to law schools in January decreased by 20 percent compared to a year before.
Applications submitted to law schools in January decreased by 20 percent compared to a year before. ThinkStock/iStockphoto

Applications to U.S. law schools have plummeted to a 30-year low. With tuition rising and jobs increasingly scarce, more and more students are apparently concluding that the time and money it takes to get a law degree just won't pay off. "We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books," Indiana University law professor William D. Henderson tells The New York Times. "Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken." Here, a look at the dimming allure of the nation's law schools, by the numbers:

30,000
Applications to enter law school this fall, as of January

20
Percent decline compared to the same time in 2012

38
Percent decline in January 2012 compared to the same time in 2011

54,000
Total law school applications anticipated for fall 2013

100,000
Applications submitted for fall 2004

40,000
Students expected to actually enroll next fall

202
Law schools in the U.S.

192
Law schools projected to remain in 2023

19
Law schools added in the U.S. since the year 2000

$23,000
Average annual private law school tuition in 2001

$40,500
Average annual private law school tuition in 2010

$125,000
Debt piled up by the average student who graduates from a private law school

$75,700
Debt of the average graduate from a public law school

85
Percentage of 2011 law-school graduates who had a job nine months after graduation, according to the National Association of Legal Placement

92
Percentage of graduates who were able to promptly find work in 2007

55
Percentage of law school graduates, according to a Spring 2012 American Bar Association study, who managed to find a job requiring a law degree

$1.1 billion
Revenues expected next year for firms in India that offer legal services, according to Indian research company ValueNotes. The number of companies offering these services, which let U.S. law firms hire low-wage temps abroad rather than full-time lawyers back home, has almost tripled between 2006 and 20011.

140
Firms in India now offering legal services to U.S. firms via internet or cheap telecommunications

18
Decline in median pay for new law-school graduates in private practice since 2010, to $85,000

1,225,452
Licensed lawyers in the United States in 2010

Sources: ABAForbes, National Association of Legal Placement, New York Times, The Atlantic

 

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