Law School Applicants by Degrees: A Per Capita Analysis of the Top Feeder Schools

Research and Data

Applicants Per Capita

In this research publication, AccessLex Institute explores "applicant concentration" at the top 240 feeder schools, as published in the Law School Admission Council's (LSAC) Top 240 Feeder Schools for ABA Applicants list. The resulting "per-capita" figures help contextualize the feeder school trends.

 


Background

Each year, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) publishes its Top 240 Feeder Schools for ABA Applicants list. The colleges and universities appearing on the list produce the most applicants to law schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). These feeder schools often account for the majority of applicants to law school in a given year – about 61 percent in 2016.1 Thus, the list provides an interesting glimpse into application trends and the popularity of legal education overall. The list also tells us something about the types of students who are interested in earning law degrees. 

This report expands upon the feeder school list by exploring “applicant concentration”—the number of law school applicants relative to the size of the institution. We calculate applicant concentration by dividing the number of applicants from a particular institution by the number of bachelor’s degree recipients at that institution in the same year. The resulting “per-capita” figures help contextualize the feeder school trends.

Methodology

This report measures the concentration of law school interest among students at colleges and universities appearing on LSAC’s Top 240 Feeder Schools for ABA Applicants list.2 This report builds on the list by measuring applicant volume relative to the number of bachelor’s degree recipients from an institution. The resulting per-capita quotient is a useful proxy for the concentration of law school interest at a given institution. 

Applicant volume data were retrieved from LSAC.3 Data on bachelor’s degree recipients were retrieved from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).4 Seven institutions appearing on the feeder school list are excluded from the analysis because they are located in Canada or Puerto Rico, or because they were missing data on bachelor’s degree recipients. Remaining are 233 of the 240 institutions from the list.

This analysis explores three main questions:

  1. How did overall trends in law school applicant concentration shift among the top feeder schools between 2011 and 2016?5
  2. Which schools had the most concentrated interest in law school among their students and alumni in 2016?
  3. How can law school admission officers and others use information presented in this report to help devise recruitment strategies and gain useful insight about law school applicants?

 

1 Law School Admission Council (2017). Applicants by race/ethnicity and sex. Retrieved from https://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/data/ethnicity-sex-applicants; Law School Admission Council (2017). Top 240 feeder schools for ABA applicants. Retrieved from https://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/data/top-240-feeder-schools.
2 Law School Admission Council (2017). Top 240 feeder schools for ABA applicants. Retrieved from https://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/data/top-240-feeder-schools.
3 Applicant totals include current students at the time of application as well as alumni who applied for fall admission during the cycle in which they were counted. Applicant data for 2011 includes applicants for the fall term and deferrals. Data for 2012-14 include applicants for all terms and deferrals. Data for 2015 and subsequent years include applicants for all terms and do not include deferrals.
4 The number of students receiving bachelor’s degrees was retrieved from the IPEDS Completions data files. Provisional release data were used for the 2015-16 academic year and final release data were used for all other academic years. Prior to 2011-12, IPEDS reported the total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded, but not the number of bachelor’s degree recipients. A multiplier was created for each school by calculating the median proportion of bachelor’s degree recipients to first-major bachelor’s degrees awarded between 2011-12 and 2014-15. An estimate for the number of bachelor’s degree recipients in 2010-11 was created for each school by multiplying the number of first-major bachelor’s degrees it awarded in 2010-11 by its multiplier. The median multiplier for all schools was 0.994. The number of first-major bachelor’s degrees awarded for 2010-11 was retrieved from the IPEDS Completions data files.
5 These data refer to the academic year which reflects the law school enrollment year.