Update: This post has been updated to include enrollment information about three additional schools that were previously omitted.
Washington area law schools fared slightly better than the national average when it came to enrollment for fall 2013, according to new data released by the American Bar Association.
While enrollment of first-year students fell 8 percent at the nation’s law schools between 2012 and 2013, enrollment at George Washington and George Mason universities grew 21 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Enrollment at Georgetown University dropped 5 percent.
Still, some of those programs are enrolling the smallest classes in their history and struggling to attract the best applicants.
Although George Washington saw the biggest jump in enrollment among the region’s schools, the 481-student class that enrolled last fall is still smaller than the program’s typical class size of 500-plus students.
Enrollment of first-year students at the nation’s law schools has been falling steadily since 2010, as the shrinking availability of law firm jobs drives down the demand for a legal education. Enrollment nationwide hit an 11-year low of 39,674 for the 2013-14 school year — down 8 percent compared with 43,155 in 2012-13 and down 24 percent compared with 52,488 in 2010-11.
As a result, top-tier schools often find they must cut class size to maintain quality and ramp up financial aid to win over students. Many schools have had to boost recruitment budgets.
Here are the enrollment figures for first-year students at the Washington region’s law programs, comparing 2012 with 2013:
• Nationwide: Down 8 percent, from 43,155 to 39,674.
• George Mason: Up 1 percent, from 147 to 149.
• George Washington: Up 21 percent, from 398 to 481.
• Georgetown: Down 5 percent, from 575 to 544.
• American University: Down 4 percent, from 491 to 473.
• University of Virginia: Down 7 percent, from 356 to 330.
• Catholic University of America: Up 14 percent, from 141 to 161.
• University of the District of Columbia: Down 21 percent from 125 to 99.
• Howard University: Up 16 percent from 130 to 151.
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