Preparing to meet with donors recently, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law dean Andrew Klein was excited to pass along the news that going to law school is cool again.

The Law School Admissions Council is reporting an 8.1 percent increase in applications for the 2018-2019 academic year compared to the previous school year. Also, applicants with higher LSAT scores are returning. Individuals scoring between 165 and 169 rose 27.2 percent, while those between 175 and 180 skyrocketed 59.9 percent, albeit that was the smallest number of students at just 689. Klein, who has led IU McKinney for six years, said the students coming to the Indianapolis law school have always been an academically strong bunch. The difference this year has been earlier commitments, as a majority of the students enrolling turned in their deposits to hold their seats by May. In the past, most of the deposits did not arrive until June or July.

Fall classes at all of Indiana’s law schools have started and the incoming students are settling into their routines.

IU Maurer got just over 2,000 applications, which compares to the number received in 2013, said dean Austen Parrish. While about 350 applications were submitted from Hoosiers, the bulk came from out-of-state students.

Competition for the top applicants is still fierce but, Parrish said, the 1Ls coming to the Bloomington law school this year have a high intellect and have done amazing things.

Although legal education might be breathing easier, some law schools are still struggling from the disruption brought by the Great Recession. The tightening job market for lawyers, coupled with stories of law school graduates crushed by student loan debt, caused many would-be law students to pursue other careers.

Valparaiso Law School is one casualty. As Klein pointed out, the 139-year-old institution has withstood two world wars and the Great Depression, but the upheaval of the last five years was too much. The northwest Indiana school suspended admissions for the 2018-2019 academic year and is in talks with Middle Tennessee State University about the possibility of transferring the law school to Murfreesboro.

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