AccessLex Institute’s Spring 2023 Legal Education Data Deck Unveils Trends in Access, Affordability, and Value

AccessLex Institute

WEST CHESTER, PA — AccessLex Institute® recently released its spring 2023 Legal Education Data Deck. Refreshed semi-annually, the Data Deck analyzes law school admission, bar passage, and financial trends within data provided by numerous educational institutions and organizations, as well as federal agencies, including the Law School Admission Council, the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the National Association for Law Placement, the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Based on the data collected, researchers and data analysts from AccessLex Institute’s Center for Legal Education Excellence® identify trends regarding access, affordability, and value in legal education. The findings are utilized as a primary reference source by the ABA, deans, law school administrators, reporters, and journalists.

This spring’s Data Deck indicates an increase in the overall law school admission rate by two percentage points between 2021 and 2022, with 70 percent of applicants receiving offers of admission in 2022. These figures mark the first increase in admission rates in seven years.

Besides the increase in the overall law school admission rate, the Data Deck incorporates admission rate trends regarding gender, ethnicity, and race. The admission rates for men and women increased by one percentage point, with men continuing to be admitted at higher rates than women. In other areas, admissions rates differ markedly by applicants’ race and ethnicity. Seventy-eight percent of White applicants received at least one law school admission offer compared to 48 percent of Black applicants and 58 percent of Hispanic/Latine applicants.

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In the 2021-2022 academic year, students of color comprised 35 percent of first-year enrollment and 34 percent of withdrawals after the 1L year — a significant improvement over the 2020-2021 academic year when students of color comprised 47 percent of students who attritted after the first year but only 33 percent of first-year enrollment.

When adjusted for inflation, the findings indicate that average tuition and fees for full-time students appear to have decreased from 2020 to 2022. Although nominal tuition and fees have increased steadily over the last seven years, they have lagged inflation in the last two.

“The latest Data Deck updates provide an aerial view of law school admission and enrollment a year or so following the pandemic. Applications dipped, women continued to make up a greater share of law school applicants and J.D. enrollment, and the proportion of students of color enrolled continued to tick upward,” states Tiffane Cochran, Vice President of Research, AccessLex Institute. “As we consider what’s on the horizon, such as the expansion of online and hybrid J.D. programs and the potential dismissal of race-conscious admission policies, following these legal education trends and examining our role in shaping them becomes even more important.”

Explore the spring 2023 AccessLex Legal Education Data Deck.

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