Law Schools Still Accepting Applications for the Incoming Fall Class

My law school is. Anyone else?

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The Coronavirus has upended many people's plans. Jobs have been lost, businesses destroyed, internships and other opportunities postponed or canceled, and so on. In light of the fact that many people's plans have suddenly be upended, and people who were contemplating law school in the future may prefer to start this Fall, my law school (Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University) has decided to extend the application deadline until May 31. If a prospective student applies by then, the admissions office will accept results from the May LSAT-FLEX. You can also apply with GRE scores.

Are other law schools being flexible about their application deadline? If so, feel free to inform readers in the comments section.

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  1. Thank God! I was worried we would have fewer lawyers in the future!

    1. What will be interesting is if there ever is a challenge (legal or legislative) to the monopoly which the ABA currently has on entry into the profession. While most (all?) states now require graduation from an ABA-accredited law school as the prerequisite for bar entry, many used to permit indentureship as an alternative.

      If it’s a political (legislative) challenge, I think it will happen first with the APA and it’s similar monopoly on entry to the psychology & counseling professions. The contrast between the APA’s enforced values and those of the “Bible Belt” states are so great that I can see something similar to Osteopathic Medicine arising and being legislatively accepted as an alternative accreditation. (I’ve already heard talk of doing this.)

      But the ABA leans left in a country that is center-right and a house divided does not stand indefinitely.

      1. The libertarian solution is to open the US borders to doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists, and engineers from Tijuana. That should improve the quality of services while reducing the price for said services.

        1. Haven’t we done that already? Every 4th doctor’s name when you try to find one is a string of vowels and consonants marking them from the sub-continent.

          (defer a debate about the quality, this comment merely about the outsourcing)

          1. I think you’ll see more cases in the IT business sector in the next few years. Pajeet’s spaghetti code works just enough until it doesn’t and fucks everything up. I read some article stating that something like 93% of Indian computer scientists / engineers were incapable of writing functional code but to an MBA running the company and B.S. Comp Sci is a B.S. Comp Sci.

            1. I did read that the biggest problem with Boeing having to ground their most advanced jet was coding outsourced to India.

              In my experience, the wanna-be Brahmins in my IT dept are no better or worse than the non-subcontinental grognards. IT is still a field where actual results matter, and people get fired when things don’t work.

              It’s mostly about paying some guy with an H1B about $20K less than a citizen with equal skill. My org also outsourced about 20 positions when the rules on sponsorship changed.

              1. As I understand it, Boeing was a company run by engineers except that the Clinton Admin forced it to merge with McDonnell Douglas, which wasn’t — and they took over and moved the corporate office to Chicago.

                And the problem with the MAX is that instead of designing a new airplane (which would then require pilots to qualify on it, which would cost airlines training money), they kept the 737 model that really was based on the B-29 Superfortress from WW-II.

                1. McDonnell Douglas purchased Boeing, and used Boeings money to do it.

                  Full disclosure: I worked at Douglas Aircraft Company before medical school.

                  The way Douglas (and McDonnell) worked was irrational enough… but destroying all the US large airframe airliner capability in the process was not the solution.

                  1. I know I am going back 40 years now, but was the DC-10 maligned, or was it truly an unsafe airplane, at least as originally delivered?

                    1. DC-10 was good enough for Lord Xenu

          2. Yes, and my issue is that AMERICANS (of whatever race, but PEOPLE BORN HERE) ought to have an equal chance with those who weren’t. An equal chance.

        2. CA did that several years ago when it allowed an illegal alien who somehow got into and through a CA law school to take, pass, and be admitted to its Bar.
          How’s that “rule of law” thingy doin’ these days out West?

          1. From my understanding, some states have reciprocity with other states and other states allow you to take the bar exam without attending law school. There was an instance of a lawyer who passed the bar and was self-taught in one state (California) wanting to be recognized as a legitimate lawyer in another state (MA, i think).

            1. It’s been a long time since I checked, but last I heard California has no reciprocity with other states.

    2. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of George Mason that they are still trolling for applicants to fill seats for the fall. Closer to home, Washington University’s deadline for Fall 2020 was a firm Aug 10, 2019.

      1. No law school has an August application deadline, and Wash U apparently has no formal deadline: “WashULaw accepts applications on a rolling basis. We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.”

  2. The dispatch from the South Texas College Of Law should be something special.

    1. Come Hell or high water, Ted Cruz will ban dildos!

      1. To be fair to Ted Cruz, Texas had done that long before he was in politics and all he did was defend the state’s regulatory power.

        Should all us goyim have the full fruits of the sexual revolution at our fingertips, or do you prefer a more Numbers type of approach towards sexuality?

        1. I understand Teddy was just doing his assigned job but liberals latched onto it like a winning argument against him.

          Personally, I don’t object to seeing shiksas squirt, online or in person.

          1. I will admit that I had to look up on the Urban Dictionary “shiska”.

            1. That’s because you are goyischekupf.

              1. Alpheus,
                Is that an alternate spelling of goyishe kopf? Or a different word that I just don’t know?

                1. Sorry, I don’t go back here enough. I meant kopf. My grandmother always wrote it goyischekopf when she was calling me one in a letter. Her spelling seems more German, which is a little strange because she was Ukrainian.

  3. The three questions they likely won’t answer are (a) what are the number of applications received so far, (b) how many students have they accepted so far, and (c) what is the yield on that? “Yield” is the percentage of students who accept the acceptance (and pay a deposit), “shrink” is the percentage of the latter who don’t show up in September. I doubt anyone has any idea of what the “shrink” will be this fall, but I suspect it will be greater than in past years.

    I should know this but don’t: There was a major dropoff in law school enrollments in Fall-2011 because of the recession-related drop in hirings 2010 & 2011. Did the enrollment numbers come back with the economy — or did law schools remain smaller than they had been circa 2008?

    Undergrad didn’t — over the past 8 years, undergrad enrollment nationally has fallen 11%. It’s predicted to continue to decline and then plummet in 2026 — this all is demographics and the number of 18-year olds in the country (2008+18=2026).

    While we have had alternating big & small generations ever since the Civil War, there were few children born during the Depression and then a *lot* during the Baby Boom — and the Millennials are the children of the Baby Boomers, while Gen X were the children of those born during the Depression (Silent Generation) and Gen Z are their children. So there already was a shortage of bodies above and beyond the Wuhan Virus.

    What saved academia in the 1980’s and 1990’s (when the Baby Boomers aged out) was the enrollment of non-traditional-aged women who had started their families in their early 20’s rather than going to college — and instead went in their mid 40’s. That’s not going to happen now because (unlike their mothers) the Millennial women have already gone to college — higher ed is over 60%/40% female majority.

    And China has rebuilt the universities that it destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, India has built its own, and hence both countries are increasingly going to educate their children domestically. (China was already in the midst of a major recession prior to the Wuhan Virus.)

    Some predict that upwards of *half* of the existing colleges and universities will close in the next 10 years — and that likely will apply to law schools as well. It’s a simple case of bodies and money, bodies to put into the seats and those bodies having the money to pay ever-increasing tuition — and a shortage of both.

    1. Is the ROI even acceptable if you don’t graduate from a Top15 law school?

      1. Is the ROI acceptable for higher education in general, or would you have better odds “investing” it at the nearest casino?

        1. I think the ROI on a top-tier law school is worth it if you qualify for and obtain a BigLaw summer associate job and an associate position with the large salary out of law school (or a clerkship). Or if you just have the money to spend and would like the experience.

          In my own experience, I was accepted into, and graduated from, a Top14 law school (not sure why they cut off at 14, maybe because of ties?), and paid full freight (well, borrowed $125k for the 3 years, and paid it back with interest after 12 years). But I had also been offered a full scholarship to Notre Dame’s law school. At 21, I of course wanted to go to the better law school, and went into debt to do so. And while I have enjoyed the respect I receive among local lawyers when they ask what law school I attended, I’m certainly not earning any more than my colleagues who attended a Tier 2 or 3 school. (I either didn’t apply myself enough in law school or was not as smart as the top students, probably both, so the 3.20 GPA I coasted our with was not going to lead to a clerkship or BigLaw hire.) So unless I’m placing a high value on the intangibles of my degree, in retrospect I should have taken the full ride to Notre Dame, and ended up in the same type of job I have now.

          If college students considering law school ever ask, I tell them to go to a lower ranked law school that offers a good scholarship, rather than a higher ranked school that doesn’t, unless they are pretty near certain they will graduate near the top of the class at law school (based on having done so in college, not just self confidence), AND that they desire to go into BigLaw as a career. If they want to be a local prosecutor or PD, or work for a municipality or a small to medium size firm, I tell them that from my experience the better law school will not be a factor in their position 10 years down the line.

          All that being said, what I don’t understand is why some of the worst law schools around charge at least as high tuition (if not higher!) than much better schools. Within 100 miles from my town, there are probably At least 5-7 really bad law schools (who accept anyone) and their tuition costs are insane. Many of their students don’t even graduate, and those that do have like a 20% Bar pass rate, and thus they are enticing people to go $150,000 in debt for an almost worthless product, where most of the students will never actually practice law, but will have a lifetime of non-dischargeable, six-figure debt to deal with.

          1. >the worst law schools around charge at least as high tuition
            if you’re dumb enough to apply, you’re dumb enough to be swindled.

            I was considering being a lawyer but I make good money now and don’t think it would be worth it. Still, I always have that “what if” thought in my mind.

          2. “what I don’t understand is why some of the worst law schools around charge at least as high tuition (if not higher!) than much better schools”

            Because it’s a monopoly and hence they can.

            Reality is that the only qualification for taking the bar exam is being willing to acquire said six-figure debt, and that’s why they can get away with this.

          3. You fail to discuss geography in your analysis. If you go to a T14 school, you practice where you want. If you go to a Tier 2 or Tier 3 school to save money (which absolutely is the right approach), you have to go in the region where you want to practice.

            Yes, there are always exceptions. But if you go to the University of Toledo (I don’t know anything specific about this school; I’m just picking something very regional at random), you’d better want to practice in northwestern Ohio. (Maybe even central Ohio.)

      2. We will see how the Coronavirus and the economic fallout affects the legal job market in the medium term, but until the virus hit, this was the best time in a long time, maybe ever, to attend law school. Applicant pool still well below the peak, and law schools offering generous scholarships. So you could still get into a “better” law school than you would have in 2008, and likely pay less. And if you are willing to go to a lower rank law school–say you got into Duke, but you were willing to go to your home state school of Indiana-Bloomington (still a fine school), you could likely go for free or close to it.

        1. “until the virus hit, this was the best time in a long time, maybe ever, to attend law school”

          I don’t expect you to believe a liberal, but it won’t take long to recognize that statement is wrong if you ask a conservative who was around during the 1980s.

          1. If this is the best time to attend law school in the last 30+ years, wouldn’t that make it the best in a long time?

            1. First, the “maybe ever” part was silly. Perhaps even so silly it was a botched attempt at sarcasm?

              My recollection of the ’90s is that that period was very good for law graduates, too. I haven’t been involved in hiring lawyers since 2004 but I suspect the market was better than that it is now, also.

        2. this was the best time in a long time, maybe ever, to attend law school.

          Many people are saying that there has never been a better time in all of history to attend law school. Just recently, a good friend of mine, who is an expert at law school, told me this is an unprecedented time for attending law school. Historians will be writing about this current moment for centuries. Millions and millions of young beautiful kids are going to law school and making more money than any profession has ever made.

        3. Wouldn’t how good a time it is to attend law school depend on the job market for lawyers, rather than how easy it is to get in, or what it costs?

          1. Job market was quite good pre-Corona. Not as good as the late 90s, for example, but you have to think of it this way: Let’s say 70% of the class at Georgetown gets jobs at firms paying 200K, and Boston College 35%. In 1998, you would get a relatively “better” job in terms of pay, promotion, etc. from Georgetown. But in 2018, you were more likely to get into Georgetown to begin with; in 1998 you might have been at BC with the same credentials. (These are just hypos, the ease of getting in has actually eased up more at lower-ranked schools). Or you could go to BC at a huge discount in 2018 and be more likely to be near the top of the class. So it’s job market plus competition from other students for admission and jobs plus how much you pay to go to law school. The job market has been better, but combined with the other factors, it’s been a great time to go to law school. I saw somewhere that average tuition at a *private* school, not sticker price, but what’s actually being charged, is something like 18K a year. That’s less than my last year of law school cost 30 years ago.

            1. Why wouldn’t salaries offered to graduates of Geogetown or BC or anywhere else reflect the fact that it was easier to get in now – hence the quality of the graduates might not be the same?

              Markets, David. Markets.

              What are the people who would have gone to law school in 1998 and aren’t going now doing instead?

  4. It’s good to know we can always count on the ASSol to come through in these difficult times.

  5. I’d like to apply but am not sure if GMU will accept a transfer of my Volokh Conspiracy Law School credits.

    1. Will you pay tuition in cash?

      1. Actually I was hoping Prof. Bernstein would sponsor me since I’m a loyal reader / commenter.

        1. Are your domestic abilities adequate?

  6. It’s not so much of interest that schools will open in the fall, of course they will, like all grade and high schools. But what percent will be foreign students, particularly the Chinese, paying full price, that colleges depend on to balance their budgets? That’s the interesting question.

    When I was in graduate school recently, the Chinese yanked the rug out from under my university about a reciprocity program. They were banking on tons of Chinese students paying full price to make up their budget gap. Of course, these students were going to take slots from taxpaying in-state citizens.

    One professor said the reason for the cancellation, he found out, was that the Chinese want the STEM expertise the university provides but without the social sciences (and associated luggage) reciprocity that the university put into the deal. I can’t say I blame them.

    1. I guess social justice has already been achieved in the People’s Republic of China.

    2. these students were going to take slots from taxpaying in-state citizens.

      They were also going to make it cheaper for taxpaying in-state students who got slots.

      1. Not necessarily. Do not presume that costs won’t increase to match revenue.

  7. With regard to some of the comments above-

    1. No, there is not a complete ABA-accredited monopoly. That said, the vast majority of states either require it, or the path without it is onerous (IIRC, Virginia allows you to “apprentice,” Mass. has non-accredited schools, and California, famously, has the “Baby Bar”). Given the great disparity in the level of practice you will normally see, graduating from an ABA law school AND passing the bar is the bare minimum, and usually indicates that the person in question can breathe with their mouth closed. Sometimes.

    2. “until the virus hit, this was the best time in a long time, maybe ever, to attend law school”

    I don’t even. Things have certainly trended up since law schools (and the graduates, etc.) were utterly destroyed in 2009-12. But saying, “Things have gotten better in the last, oh, six years or so” is hardly the same ringing endorsement.

    If you get into a T15, it’s a good investment. If you get a free ride at another school, it’s worth it. Otherwise, caveat emptor.

    1. Massachusetts now only has one non-accredited school, the other becoming part of the morass known as UMass Dartmouth and somehow getting accredited. Here’s the list of unaccredited schools:

    2. “Baby Bar”

      You can also still “read law” in California [along with Vermont, Virginia and Washington I believe] without going to law school and take the bar exam. Kim Kardashian is famously doing that now.

  8. I response to David’s question: I know that CWRU is still taking accepting applications for the coming year, we may also soon be accepting spring start applications.

    Admissions info is here:

  9. “I saw somewhere that average tuition at a *private* school, not sticker price, but what’s actually being charged, is something like 18K a year. That’s less than my last year of law school cost 30 years ago.”

    Prof. Bernstein teaches at George Mason, which is a good public law school. That said …. the non-discounted cost to attend (2018 start) is $190k (non-resident, assume out of state). If you are one of the people that GMU is paying full freight, that’s a good deal! I mean, you still have living expenses, but still.

    If you go to GMU Law, you should be prepared to practice locally- of course, local practice is Virginia and DC, so assuredly most people are prepared for that.

    If you graduate from GMU Law, you have an approximate 66% chance of securing a long-term job that requires a JD and bar passage. Congratulations!

    Now, I want to emphasize this again- this a good regional law school. It’s ranked, what, #42 right now? Decent school. Good for them.

    There are SO MANY WORSE SCHOOLS. So look at those numbers … the good numbers, from a good school.


    1. So I will reiterate my general rule of thumb.

      If you get into a top law school (I would say T14, but around there) then you can spend a little money.

      If not, then you shouldn’t go unless you are getting a full scholarship, or have another pressing reason to go (daddy is the partner, and someone has to take his place).

      Anyway, caveat emptor and all that. Bonus fun fact that I just learned- GMU Law cut enrollment from over 300 to ~150 or so during the last bust.

      1. P.S. Our target enrollment, and basically our average enrollment, before the post-Great Recession bust was 220. The year we took in 300 was an anomaly, it was either 2010 or 11, and every other law school had a big drop in matriculation, but we were oversubscribed, only to get slammed like everyone else the following year. It’s now been ranging between 150 and 180, we have cut our class size just like many other law school–but not by half.

    2. A very large percentage of our students, as at other law schools these days, are getting discounts. Of course, the worse your job prospects are from a school, the less payoff you get from law school, though your opportunity cost may be lower. I don’t count living costs as a cost of law school unless going to law school involves moving out of your parents house, where your bills are all paid. After all, you have to pay for housing, rent, food, etc. whether you are in law school or not. The real additional cost of law schools is your opportunity cost of whatever job you would be holding those three years (or whatever else you would be doing).

      1. “A very large percentage of our students, as at other law schools these days, are getting discounts. Of course, the worse your job prospects are from a school, the less payoff you get from law school, though your opportunity cost may be lower. ”

        Well, here’s the thing. Once you get out of the T14, you’re crazy to take on debt to go to law school in terms of tuition. You’re going to have to (most likely) just to live. But the people that are most likely to succeed in law school (those with high LSATs + uGPAs) will, of course, not have to pay tuition; it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. In short, it’s the people least likely to succeed who most often get the most debt, and are most unaware going in of their chances.

        “I don’t count living costs as a cost of law school unless going to law school involves moving out of your parents house, where your bills are all paid. After all, you have to pay for housing, rent, food, etc. whether you are in law school or not.”

        That’s not fully accurate; usually, your living expenses go up, because not only are law schools usually some distance away, often in more urban and “college-y” area (much higher rent), but you are going into debt for it (interest) and you cannot, for example, put money down on a house or something similar (I know, HA!). In general, living expenses in law school > prior, and you can’t pay for them contemporaneously.

        “The real additional cost of law schools is your opportunity cost of whatever job you would be holding those three years (or whatever else you would be doing).”

        The opportunity cost is a major factor that most people ignore. Three years of working and building equity (instead of debt) is nothing to sniff at. But the other major thing is- will you use your law degree.

        Again, to use GMU Law, which is a good, Top 50 school- only 2/3 of your graduates take employment that require a degree and bar passage. And those are the numbers for the recent really good economy. And this includes students taking jobs that are … well, PD-type jobs, that aren’t exactly glamorous or well paid.

        But 1/3 of the students would have been better off never going at all. Period. And again, I think GMU Law is a good school. The numbers are much, much worse at other schools.

        That’s the issue. Law school is a great investment for people like you (Professor) or me, or certain others. But the lack of credible information, both about real outcomes and about what the practice of law is really like, leads far too many students to end up massively in debt and not working in the law. And while the great recession managed to lower enrollments and stop the explosion of shady, fourth-tier law schools …. there’s still far too many law schools, charging far too much. IMO.

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