ABA reports 2013 law school enrollment data

 The American Bar Association on Tuesday released national enrollment figures for first-year law students and non-J.D. students for the fall of 2013.

The 202 ABA-approved J.D. programs reported that 39,675 full-time and part-time students began their law school studies in the fall of 2013. This is a decrease of 4,806 students (11 percent) from the fall of 2012 and a 24 percent decrease from the historic high 1L enrollment of 52,488 in the fall of 2010.

Approximately two-thirds of ABA-law schools (135) experienced declines in first-year enrollment from last year. At 81 law schools, 1L declines exceeded 10 percent.

At 63 schools, 1L enrollment increased from 2012. At 27 of those schools, enrollment increased 10 percent or more.

At 34 schools, the number of 1L students stayed within five students above or below last year’s figures.

School reports also show that total non-J.D. enrollment for the fall of 2013 was 11,139, compared with 11,067 for the fall of 2012. Non-J.D. programs offer both advanced degrees, such as LL.M.s, for which an underlying law degree is required, and degrees for non-lawyer professionals that do not require a law degree for admission.

The figures show that 9,401 (84 percent) of non-J.D. students are enrolled in advanced, post-J.D. programs, and 1,738 (16 percent) are enrolled in degree programs for non-lawyer professionals.

Enrollment in non-J.D. programs is concentrated. Forty-eight of the 202 ABA-approved law schools enrolled 75 or more non-J.D. students, and about the same number enrolled no non-J.D. students. The five schools with the largest enrollments constituted 20 percent of the overall total. Twenty-one schools offered at least one fully online non-J.D. degree program, enrolling more than 1,500 students.

Over the next several months, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will produce and publish reports about this data, including school-specific information. These reports will be included on the statistics page of the section’s website.

The data come from the questionnaires that ABA-approved law schools file annually with the association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The figures have been verified in a collaborative process between the section and the Law School Admissions Council.

The ABA is able to report final data earlier this year because of the cooperation of the law schools and the improved efficiency of the ABA-LSAC joint process to verify matriculant information.
The ABA requires law schools to post detailed consumer information on their websites by Dec. 16.