Cornell Law School’s Record Breaking Applications

by billmason on May 8, 2010

No one can quite explain the 52% jump in applications at Cornell Law School. While an increase was expected, even the Dean of Admissions Richard Geiger can’t figure out the record breaking jump. A. Harrison Barnes, attorney and founder of says 2009 showed a jump in the number of those who took the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, but by his estimates, this was likely no more than 20%. Still, Dean Geiger anticipates even more last minute applications before the February 1 deadline. He also says there are no plans to increase the school’s enrollment cap and that students prefer the smaller class sizes. Cornell has always maintained its commitment of smaller class sizes in an effort to ensure more personalized attention.

So what does this mean for the future legal employment outlook? Because there is such competition, not only at Cornell, but other renowned legal institutions, including Washington University, University of San Francisco and University of Iowa, A. Harrison Barnes agrees with other experts there will be a more diverse and dedicated generation of legal minds. Even if the employment outlook for legal careers hasn’t regained its momentum before the recession, it’s only a matter of time before the gates open once again. Law firms are likely in for a completely different pool to choose from once it all comes full circle and the dust settles.

Sites such as are beginning to see these diversities in the quality of recent law graduates just now entering the legal sector. Many opted for a more focused specialization while others, determined to keep their options open, made the decision to keep their specialties a bit more broad in order to prevent the “boxed in” feeling some lawyers begin to feel after awhile. Still, it’s a great time to be a law student – regardless of the approach you adopt.

Another trend many are noticing is with the number of part time students. The American Bar Association reports 16% of JD students are considered part time. This likely means there are many who have returned to school in an effort to obtain their degrees while also managing their current careers and likely, a family life. Not only that, a part time status is often easier from a financial perspective. US News & World Report recently indicated the new part time trends were likely as much to do with time management as it was the recession and the financial hurdles it presents. It’s not that law students are hoping to delay their new legal careers, but rather, more of us are adopting a far better work-life balance. Priorities are shifting and we’re becoming better focused as a result.

As Cornell and other legal universities continue to enjoy the renewed interest in the field of law, those who are pursing their degrees are doing so with a bit of constraint as they, as well as the rest of us, attempt to strike a healthier balance before we enter the job market.

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