More applying to law school in poor economy

The University Law School saw a 30 percent increase in applicants from last year.

Nick Rubino fell in love with the legal profession back in middle school when he first joined the mock trial team. He knew then he would apply to law school. Unfortunately for Rubino, a political science and sociology senior, a record number of people who applied to the University of Minnesota Law School this year had also came to that decision. He didnâÄôt get into the school. As the economic downturn gobbles through any lingering entry-level jobs, students have been turning more to alternative options post-graduation. A Kaplan survey of 1,000 students who took the February LSAT showed 40 percent were influenced by the down economy when deciding to apply to law school. The UniversityâÄôs Law School saw applications jump nearly 30 percent over last year. The Law School wonâÄôt increase the entering class size to meet that increased demand, director of admissions Julie Tigges said. She also noted the UniversityâÄôs tuition is âÄúa good deal,âÄù and students may be influenced by costs. Historically, law school admissions become more competitive during times of economic recession, said Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. Thomas noted the years following the Sept. 11 attacks saw âÄúthe greatest spike in law school admissions,âÄù in decades. Kaplan has also seen an increased interest in some of their LSAT preparation services, such as a free practice LSAT test, he said. In another survey, 70 percent of participating admissions officers reported a strong LSAT score is the most important factor for law school admission. The interest has certainly piqued on campus; pre-law advisor Angie Schmidt Whitney said she has seen a steady flow of students inquiring about law school in recent weeks. âÄúNormally my spring time is very quiet,âÄù she said. âÄúIâÄôve been noticing a sharp increase in pre-law appointments that I have not seen in past years.âÄù Overall, the career counselors have not seen the increase in services they believed they would. âÄúWeâÄôre not quite seeing the anxiousness to the degree we thought,âÄù Schmidt Whitney said. âÄúThat might happen in the fall, but IâÄôm not sure.âÄù Rubino, who will be attending DePaul College of Law in Chicago this fall, said although the economy didnâÄôt influence his decision to apply to law school, there were a number of students in his LSAT prep course who had lost their jobs or had expected to work for a couple years before heading to law school. âÄúBeing a lawyer, itâÄôs like being a doctor,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs a service-oriented position, and even in a failing economy thereâÄôs always going to be a need in certain sectors.âÄù Although Rubino was waitlisted at his first choice school, he said he didnâÄôt feel too much anxiety about the process. Some schools he applied to told him theyâÄôd seen their applications nearly double from the year before. âÄúI felt unlucky,âÄù he said. âÄúOf course the year that IâÄôm applying to law school, everybodyâÄôs applying to law school.âÄù âÄî Emma L. Carew is a senior staff reporter