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Volume XIII, Number 88


March 29, 2023

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Law School Applicants Drop 50% in Last Decade; Class of 2010 Provides Insights Into Reason for Decline

According to a report just released by the Law School Admission Council, the number of people applying for law school in the Fall of 2015 as of March 13 is less than half of the number of people who applied to an accredited law school for the Fall of 2005 — 41,136 vs. 95,800.

Another study just out from Ohio State University’s Michael E. Moritz College of Law professor Deborah Jones Merritt, who examined the job prospects for new lawyers admitted to the Ohio bar in 2010, reflects the stark realities facing recent law school grads:

  • Overall unemployment rate is 6.3%

  • 40% work for law firms

  • 20% currently work in jobs that require no law degree

  • Percentage of solo practitioners is up significantly from graduates a decade ago

This chart from Merritt’s report details the employment status for the Class of 2010 nine months and 55 months post-graduation:


Merritt found that many law school graduates might have difficulty finding legal work because of geographical constraints. She reports that two-thirds of the students seek bar admission in the state where they attended law school, and three-fourths stay within the same region as that school.

Gender also has a role to play, according to Merritt:

  • Men are more likely to work in private practice or business

  • Women are more likely to work in government, public interest and academia

  • Men outnumber women in solo and small firm practices

  • Four years after passing the bar, 58% of male lawyers were in private practice vs. 45% of female lawyers

This data may be welcome news to current practitioners who see the glut of graduates taking a toll on market rates for legal services and who struggle daily with increased competition. What’s your take?

© The Rainmaker Institute, All Rights Reserved National Law Review, Volume V, Number 83

About this Author

Stephen Fairley legal marketing expert, law office management

Two-time international best-selling author, Stephen Fairley is the Founder and CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company specializing in marketing and lead conversion for small to medium law firms. Since 1999, he has built a national reputation as a legal marketing expert and been named, “America’s Top Marketing Coach.” He has spoken numerous times for over 35 of the nation’s largest state and local bar associations.