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Law school applicants on the rise

By : Sarah Lifshin

A bleak economy and an even bleaker job market have prompted more and more BU graduates to put down the want ads and pick up the nearest LSAT study manual and law school application. The study of law continues to be a popular choice for University alumni, with 333 graduates having applied for a law program during the 2001-02-admission year, up 11 percent from the prior year, according to the recent Pre-Law Office Annual Report.

The annual study is conducted by the Law School Admissions Council, an organization of schools that administers the LSATs and compiles applicant information from the United States' top law schools.

In recent years, 18 to 20 percent of Harpur College graduates applied to law school either as seniors or after graduation.

BU seniors consistently exceed the national average in gaining admission to law school, and between 1996 and 2002, the acceptance rate for University seniors averaged thirteen points above the national average for senior law school applicants.

But whether students are looking to continue their studies or just don't want to find employment yet, the unsteady economy has been credited for at least helping to secure the next generation for the profession of law.

"Law school has always been a good alternate to finding a job," said Heather C. Struck, pre-law adviser for Harpur College. "Most people think the increase of applicants has to do with the economy because people are losing their jobs right now."

However, Struck says, the reasons go beyond the United States' tight American financial picture. "Law school is appealing because it is still a general graduate degree," Struck said.

Graduates receive a jurist doctorate, which Struck says can be used in most professions from entertainment and business to government and medicine. Rather than a student majoring in a particular type of law, they study all forms including tax, contractual, criminal and family.

"There is versatility to it and you can use it for any type of law," Struck said.

While the recent study only targets the 2001-02 school year, Struck said early indicators show that applications again are on the rise. According to a recent LSAC report, fall applications were up 11.1 percent nationally.

This is the second consecutive year that American Bar Association's law schools experienced double-digit percentage increases in both applicants and applications. Applications nationwide totaled 98,776 and the final count is expected to be the highest number in recent years, exceeding the high-ranking 99,327 in 1990-91. But Struck said BU?s reputation for preparing future attorneys is nothing new. The University remains among the nation"s top 50 law school feeder institutions. "There has always been a strong interest in law school," said Struck, adding the BU alumni, now practicing as attorney, often return to campus to present lectures and sit on panels.

The Harpur College Alumni National Law Advisory Council, an alumni organization of lawyers, funds two public interest law internships in New York City each summer for BU juniors and seniors.

However, Struck said that even though many students ultimately might decide against pursing a law career, they do continue to show interest as undergraduates. Visits to BU's pre-law office also are increasing, according to another recent report, which tracked its activity during the 2002-03 academic year.

There were 375 walk-in visits, up 40 percent from 2001-02. The University also conducted 27 pre-law events, including pre-law student meetings, law day and alumni panels. Attendance was up at most of the events.

"Binghamton continues to be a predictable source of well-qualified students," Struck said. "And we expect our excellent reputation to continue."

BU Law Applicant2001-03 Admissions

.333 BU law school applicants (up 11 percent from 2000-01)
.199 BU alumni applicants (up 19 percent from 2000-01)
.134 BU senior applicants (no change from prior year)
.219 BU graduates matriculated at ABA-approved law school in fall 2002
l84.3 percent acceptance rate for BU seniors, compared to 70.5 percent nationally
.70 percent acceptance rate for BU alumni applicants, com- pared to 60 percent nationally
lBU applicants enrolling in top 14 law school in 2001-02: NYU (5), Cornell (3), University of
Chicago (2), Harvard (2), Univer- sity of Virginia (2), University of Michigan (1), University of
Pennsylvania (1)
.Law schools enrolling five or more BU applicants inn 2001- 02: St. John?s (23), New York Law School (20), Brooklyn (18), Fordham (15), Hofstra (15),
Albany (14), Cardozo (12), Pace (9), University of Buffalo (8), Touro (7), American (5), NYU (5), Syracuse (5)

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    Last Updated: 10/14/08