Law school applications continue to rise
As if law school wasn’t hard enough — applying to law school is harder than ever. Universities across Canada are experiencing record-breaking application rates as a weak economy continues pushing graduates back to school.
“Every year [law school] is in high demand,” Catherine Legault, admissions coordinator at the University of Ottawa, said. She added the law program increased the number of spots from 280 to 300 this year. In previous years, the program only had 230 spots.
Western has also felt added demand for spots in law school.
“We received about 2,500 applications last year for 175 positions,” said Michael Lynk, associate dean of law at Western. “We increased our intake by 12 to 15 students over the last two years, but our LSAT scores have actually gone up.”
Eleven years ago, Lynk arrived at Western’s law school when LSAT averages were around 155. Now he says they’ve jumped to 161, making the program “quite competitive.”*
Lynk pointed to a weak economy as the culprit for a higher number of qualified applicants.
“It’s a bad economy, so more people are staying in school after their undergrad rather than going out and working.”
The competitive nature of law programs doesn’t stop after acceptance, according to Casey Marvin, first-year law student.
“Avenues that are normally available to all are also a competitive arena, which sucks,” she said.
While students are encouraged to enroll in first-year clinics, she said some had to turn students down.
“People were shocked to not get into a clinic that usually lets in everyone,” she said.
Marvin noted her classmates seemed to be in a league of their own in terms of the calibre of student admitted.
“A higher proportion of people are mature students and have very impressive backgrounds. Some people are certified accountants or have done mergers and acquisitions, especially people in the economic and business sector that got laid off,” Marvin said.
Like Lynk, Marvin suspected the depressed economy is the driving force behind increased applicant rates.
“LSAT scores were significantly higher this year because of the recession. Lots of people have decided to go back to school. They can’t find jobs.”
A highly qualified applicant pool means younger students will have to compete with mature students — who might be more qualified — when entering the job market after graduation.
“We want to find jobs for our students, but now that law schools are letting in more students, we are running into a problem of slack economy,” Lynk said. While Ontario sees 1,300 to 1,400 law students graduate every year, Lynk said seven to 10 percent have a problem finding articling positions.
“There doesn’t seem to be that many jobs for them.”
Tyler Goettl, fourth-year economics student, has filled out his application but remains uneasy about getting accepted.
“About one in nine or 10 applicants are admitted. Knowing your chances generally aren’t that great is frightening,” he said. “I’m confident but at the same time there’s a lot of confident people that don’t make it in.”