Penn Law bucks national trend with 6-percent application increase
February 26, 2009, 5:00 am·
Total employment in the legal industry may be down 1 percent since January 2008, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but that hasn't dissuaded many students who aim to study law at Penn.
While applications to law schools across the nation have declined slightly compared to this time last year, Penn Law reported a 6-percent increase in applications.
The 6,169 applications Penn Law has received so far represent the second-highest total number of applications in the school's history - and the school will continue to receive applications throughout the spring on a rolling basis.
According to Penn Law associate Dean of Admissions Renee Post, the school generally sees an increase in applications during tough economic times.
"Penn Law and many other professional and graduate schools typically do receive more applications in a down economy," she wrote in an e-mail. "People take time to reassess career goals and pursue additional education to give them more options,"
But many other law schools around the country aren't seeing this trend.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported that applications across the nation have dropped about 1 percent, according to data collected by the Law School Admissions Council.
The total number of applications to U.S. law schools so far this year is 56,481.
Admissions expert Ann Levine of lawschoolexpert.com, a law school admissions-consulting firm, said the increased uneasiness about student loans and finances along with the widespread employment panic caused by the media has contributed to this decline.
"When the media reports that lawyers aren't making $200,000 [per year] right out of law school, it causes panic, and people aren't necessarily jumping in," she added.
But schools like Penn Law aren't affected in the same way, she said, because of their reputations.
"People that have decided to go to law school know very well that if they go to one of the top law schools, they are better positioned for higher-paying jobs after graduation."
But with only 250 spots available for the 6,169 applicants, the Penn Law admissions process will be much more competitive than in recent years.
"Penn Law is the leader in cross-disciplinary education and this economic downturn reinforces the need for lawyers to understand not only the law, but to also understand other fields," Post wrote. "Our students find the kinds of jobs they want and the kinds of jobs that are launching pads toward brilliant careers."