The COVID-19 Effect on Law Schools
“No one answer is ever the answer.” ― Ahmed Mostafa
COVID-19 is continually affecting the legal world. From small firms to the giants, daily adjustments to the COVID Effect and solutions for the future are being discussed and enacted. So, what about law schools? Enrollment numbers? LSAT? Campus visits? Finances – for students and schools? Tuition fees? In-class or online? So many questions; what are the answers?
An LSAC survey of prospective law students reported that “84 percent of respondents said they definitely will (66 percent) or probably will (18 percent) attend law school this fall, while 8 percent said they probably will not or definitely will not attend law school this fall. While about two-thirds of respondents said their decision to attend law school in fall 2020 would not be affected if classes were offered online only, 21 percent of respondents said they would defer their enrollment in such a scenario.”
On the other hand, Kellye Testy, President and Chief Executive Officer of LSAC, pointed out that COVID-19 delayed the LSAT, and therefore, a decrease in enrollment may only be temporary. “COVID created a period where nothing happened, and it shifted the timeline down,” Testy said.
Bottom line: There are other factors involved in enrollment numbers. We won’t fully know the extent that COVID-19 played on law school enrollment until at least the 20-21 year has passed, and students are applying for the 21-22 year.
The LSAT-Flex, offered since May after the council canceled both March and April testing, is proving to be a sound alternative. It is composed of genuine LSAT questions that have been developed and tested per LSAC standards and processes.
LSAT-Flex includes one section each of Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, and Logical Reasoning. Test takers continue to take LSAT Writing separate from the multiple-choice portion of the test. Click here for a complete overview of the LSAT Flex.
One hindrance to enrollment is the inaccessibility of on-campus visits. While this may seem like a small matter, one must remember that a student’s choice of law school plays a significant role in the quality and expense of their education. It can also have a considerable impact on which firm hires them after graduation. Being able to visit the campus, meet with current students, and absorb the culture is essential.
The staff at many universities have instituted virtual tours and video conversations with professors and students, but they, too, are missing the one-on-one connection with potential enrollees.
On June 24, a Harvard Law Student brought a proposed class action against the university over its decision to move in-person law courses online because of the corona virus pandemic without reducing tuition. At the core of this lawsuit is a question that has arisen amid COVID-19 and the era of 100% online college. Many universities have offered a segment of online courses for years, but certain classes had to be taken on-campus. Law school is a prime example of pre-COVID required on-campus education. With the move to online, several universities, including Harvard Law School, have already announced that their 2020 Fall semester will be offered remotely. Others have announced a combination of remote and on-campus classes. Students are pointing out that their tuition should be reduced as the expenses of online are considerably less than running a campus. On the other hand, law schools are noting that one semester is only a small percentage of an entire degree. Answers will not come easily.
Federal Relief is available to help both students and schools.
The CARES Act includes two provisions that affect law schools.
- Repayment requirements for federal student loans have been suspended until September 30, with no interest accruing during that time.
- Colleges, including law schools, have been awarded financial relief based on Pell Grant volume.
- 75% of funds awarded based on the institution’s full-time Pell Grant recipients
- 25% awarded based on total non-Pell enrollment.
The schools must spend half of that money on student needs arising from the corona virus, and each school is determining the best way to distribute it. It is solely intended to provide relief for students who are already enrolled (not recruiting).
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COVID-19 has wrought havoc law schools and students as it has on every aspect of society. We must work together to find viable answers. Some answers may come slower than others; most answers will continue to evolve as new issues arise. All answers will be the result of working together and standing strong. Onboard Search will continue to be there for law firms, attorneys, and law school grads. Each member of our team is an expert on attorney recruiting and the legal industry as a whole. We specialize in placing the very best lawyers with outstanding law firms and leading corporate legal departments. We understand the needs of both individual attorneys who are exploring career options, and the law firms and companies that depend on top legal talent for their success. Our work on your behalf is always discreet, confidential, and effective. Contact us today.