The suspense is over for applicants who seek to attend law school in Colorado next year. In a press release issued April 1, 2016, the law schools at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver announced in a joint statement that both schools, per the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Education, will be joining a national consortium of accredited law schools known as ACCEPT and will begin admitting all applicants without hesitation. “The demand for ‘new normal’ lawyers has never been higher,” said Bill Geyser, Special Master of Admissions at CU. “The only appropriate response is to admit and graduate as many students as we can, as soon as possible.”
In the last five years, law school applications have dropped by more than 40 percent and enrollment has decreased by nearly 28 percent amid growing concerns about the low number of entry-level legal jobs and insurmountable student debt. ACCEPT, which stands for the American Coalition of Confident Education Promises Today, was started two years ago to address this trend and restore a positive image for American law schools. The ACCEPT mission statement provides that its goal is to develop “an innovative approach that will attack the issue of declining law school enrollment head-on.”
“We analyzed the data and came to the conclusion that the best way to increase enrollment at our law schools is the simple and direct approach of admitting more students,” said ACCEPT Spokeswoman Holly Unlikely. She further explained that the research shows that the increased quantity of admitted students will not detrimentally affect the quality of incoming classes. “Anyone with the entrepreneurial drive to apply to law school amid the doom and gloom regularly reported in The New York Times has demonstrated that they are a diligent researcher, a problem-solver and a self-starter destined to thrive in the new legal market.” Artie Batts from DU’s Department of Higher Admissions agrees. As he commented, “Individuals who recognize the value of investing in a legal education are truly the best and the brightest. In this market, the data has shown time and time again that the best way to determine whether someone will shine as a law student and a lawyer is to ask whether they’ve made the effort to apply.”
The ACCEPT approach will also provide students with an important opportunity for experiential learning. “Increased class sizes will benefit students because it will give them practice competing with many others right from the get-go,” remarked ACCEPT Director of Ethics Lyon Sack. “After three years of practicing what it takes to edge out fellow classmates, they will be more than ready to take on that same challenge in an oversaturated job market.” The Denver Bar Association’s Special Task Force on Attorney Growth commends this cutting-edge initiative by the law schools. “Never have the needs of the profession and the objectives of legal education been more aligned,” said Task Force Co-Chair Hugh Jrisk.
And, as you can imagine, this announcement came as exciting news for applicants to the CU and DU classes of 2019. “I’m thrilled to start law school this fall knowing that I’ll have kindred spirits as classmates,” says newly admitted student Hope Anna Prayer. “I’m confident that my fellow students and I will learn how to crush the competition so we can all take the Denver legal market by storm.” D
Emma Garrison is Staff Counsel at Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP. She also co-chairs the DBA 15×15 Task Force, which develops strategies for increasing young lawyer membership in the bar association. She can be reached at email@example.com.