Law school admissions soar

By Linda Luk

The saying is, when the economy goes south, admissions for professional schools goes north, said Judith Malen, director of admissions and financial aid at NIU’s College of Law.

This certainly may be the case for the college as the number of students in this year’s class is higher than ever.

“We started with 128 [students] this year,” said LeRoy Pernell, dean at the college. “Last year we started with 108.”

The 18.5-percent increase in admissions is the result of a nationwide increase in applications which may be the result of the slowing of the economy, Pernell said.

“We received 800 applications for last year and 1,200 for this class,” Pernell said. “Our increase is probably higher than other places because this region is running higher than other regions.”

The College of Law also is receiving more requests for information about the school.

“We typically get about 10 per day,” Malen said. “Now we are getting around 15 to 20 per day.”

This increase in applications was not unexpected. There has been an increase in registrations for LSAT, the law school admissions test, Pernell said.

“We know there were more people taking the LSAT last year, so there is an increase in applications,” Pernell said.

Compared to the previous year, this entering class also is more diverse.

“Fifty-five percent are women and 30 percent are minorities,” Pernell said. “Last year, the entering class was 48 percent women and 23 percent minorities.”

Both of those numbers increased in past years, but this has been the sharpest increase ever, he added. In addition to a larger and more diverse class, the credentials are also higher. This entering class has a higher average LSAT score as well as a higher grade point average.

With the increase of students, Pernell feels that the current faculty can handle the current size. However, if there’s a larger enrollment next year, there’s a possibility of opening more sections for classes.

Malen estimated that even with the increase in applications, admissions to the College of Law probably would not exceed 130 students.

“We are a relatively young law school. Finally, people are recognizing us,” Malen said. “It is a plus not only for the law school but also for NIU.”

Malen also pointed out another reason for the increase: NIU’s tuition is appealing and very affordable. For an in-state undergrad with 15 semester hours, current tuition is $1,790.25, according to

Also, because Chicago does not have a public law school, NIU’s is the only one near the city.