Baylor Law not worried about drop in LSAT takers

By Mallory Hisler

A 16.2-percent drop in the number of students taking the Law School Admission Test does not scare Nicole Masciopinto, Baylor Law School’s director of admissions and student recruitment.

Friday, the Law School Admission Council released the 2011-2012 LSAT data, which included the test-taking drop.

“The [applicant] pool is down nationally across the board, which will affect our office,” Masciopinto said.

She added, however, that Baylor has not experienced as much of a decrease in applicants as other institutions.

After four years of seeing an increase in test-taking, the past two years together combined for a nearly 26 percent drop nationally, equating to a smaller law school applicant pool.

“We are only experiencing a low-teen decrease [in applicants],” Masciopinto said. “It was a smaller drop than we expected, and it definitely hasn’t been as huge as some other offices are experiencing.”

Wendy Margolis, director of communications for the Law School Admission Council, said the drop has not gone unnoticed by her organization, which is responsible for administering tests, keeping track of the data and other admissions procedures.

“We definitely track these things, and obviously it’s a concern when it drops down like this,” Margolis said.

Although much attention has been brought to the current number of tests given, that number has actually been significantly lower in the past.

“When you look at the raw numbers, we are still higher than in the ’90s and [the year] 2000,” she said.

From 1995-2001, the number of tests given ranged from around 104,000 to close to 115,000 per year, as compared to the nearly 130,000 given this past year and the 155,000 given the year before.

“It is somewhat cyclical,” Margolis said.

She said she believes this fluctuation is directly related to the media coverage of law schools as well as the state of the economy.

Many of the reports on the drop have focused on its relation to the growing outcry that law schools are misleading prospective students by inflating post-graduation employment data.

“I think it’s definitely been the result of the economic downturn and media coverage of employment statistics,” she said.

Baylor Law’s national ranking by U.S. News and World Report, which recently rose five spots to No. 51, might be helping the law school hold steadier with their applicant pool, Masciopinto said.

“I don’t want to speculate too far, but I think that the fact that we have a program that’s going up in rankings and bringing in good applications without the huge dips that other law schools are seeing is a good sign,” she said.

Masciopinto said that for now, class sizes would remain the same, and scholarships should remain stable.

“We are admitting about what we have been admitting in the past,” Masciopinto said.

“If anything, we might take a few more because of the way admissions works. We admit more than will actually come to the Baylor Law School,” she said.

For now, the Baylor Law School seems to be faring the dip in test-takers well, Masciopinto said.

“We have seen a dip in applications, which makes sense because there are less people applying,” Masciopinto said.

“But everyone else is seeing a more dramatic decrease,” she said.