2020: Applications and Enrollments Flat

By October 2020, there were 36,802 enrollees from the applicant pool at 194 ABA-accredited law schools not in Puerto Rico. This is down 173 (-0.5 percent) from 36,975 in October 2019. La Verne, Thomas Jefferson, and Concordia no longer grace the ABA’s spreadsheets.

Moving to applications, these 194 law schools received 375,541 applications to all their programs, up 50 (-0.0 percent) from 375,491. The median law school accepted 45.4 percent of its applicants, which is down from 47.1 percent in 2019. Here’s an image of the dispersion.

Shifting to distribution, the Gini coefficient for applications among these 194 law schools is down to 0.435. Last year (2019) it was .444, so 2020 looks more like 2018, but these are slight fluctuations compared to 2011 when it was 0.357. (You can read about how to interpret Gini coefficients mean here.)

As with previous years, below is a modified Lorenz curve, a line that typically measures the cumulative distribution of a quantity in order from the recipient of the smallest amount to the largest. Usually researchers use it to illustrate the distribution of income among households. I’ve modified the Lorenz curve according to the U.S. News and World Report rankings for the previous year because the rankings are an independent measurement of law-school eliteness as seen by LSAT takers and applicants roughly at the time that they apply. Here is what I could cobble together going back to 2011.

It’s not very clear because the last few applications cycles have been very similar, but after squinting and clicking around, I saw that indeed, the distribution of applications shifted away from the more prominent law schools. Within the top 14, 20, 50, 51-100, 101 plus, and not published, the mean average of the share of all applications are very similar to 2019.

Information on this topic from prior years:

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