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ASU Law school adapts as applicants increase

Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law aims to make the admissions process simpler

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A student walks by the Beus Center for Law and Society, which is the home of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, in Phoenix, Arizona, on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

With an increase in students pursuing law, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law aims to make the application process for law school easier. 

Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has over 600 new incoming students this fall 2018. They are also ranked No. 27 in U.S. News and World Report's overall list of law schools.

According to Andrew Jaynes, assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at the law school, the number of applicants to the school increased by about 64 percent, while nationally the number of applicants were up by 8 percent and are predicted to continue to rise in 2019.

“We’ve removed barriers to apply,” Jaynes said. “We waived the application fee, we are really emphasizing the applicant experience. We want people who apply to law school to have a good experience, we want to treat them well.”

Starting in July 2019, the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, will be offered in a digital format and after September 2019, the test will only be available on a digital platform.

Jaynes said applications to ASU’s law program increased during the economic crisis in 2008 but were halved in 2012. 

“So I think it’s just the nature of the application over the years is just ups and downs. It has to do with the economy," he said. “In general, when the economy is bad, people think about investing in their education."

However, Jaynes said this is not a general rule because right now the economy is good and the applicants are increasing. 

“Part of it is people understanding that there is so many amazing ways you can contribute to society with a law degree,” Jaynes said. “It’s getting into people’s minds more than it has in the past.”

Delilah Cassidy, a first-year law student pursuing a Juris Doctor at Sandra Day O’Connor, graduated from ASU in May 2018 with an undergraduate degree in sports business and sports journalism. 

“I actually applied through a really unique program called Project Excellence,” she said. “It’s designed to keep students from Arizona State within the Arizona State community.” 

The program is a partnership with  Barrett, The Honors College in which undergraduate students can take law classes. Because of this program, Cassidy was able to surpass the LSAT with her 4.0 GPA and her high ACT writing and reading scores. 

Cassidy said she has had a fascination with law school since she was little, and when she took a pro-sports team law class while pursuing her undergraduate degree, it solidified her desire to learn law. 

“I love the law because it’s supposed to be the most fair method to justice,” she said. “I have searched for loopholes in documents, assignments and language since I was little. So it’s only right that one day I can write contracts or paperwork that won’t have any loopholes someone could jump through.”

The employment of lawyers in the U.S. is projected to experience an 8 percent growth from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics

Ray English, an assistant dean in the office of career and employment services, has worked for Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law for over two and a half years and has worked for career services at law schools for 10 years. 

English said the law school wants to create “a bigger footprint” for graduates. 

“(The program) is seeking employers hiring our students outside of the region, larger firms — D.C., New York, Seattle — pushing our brand further out," he said. "Letting those folks know that we are a top-ranked law school and to recruit our students.”

English said that one way the law school plans to prepare its students is through its externship program, where students have the opportunity to work in a law firm under the supervision of an attorney.

“That’s resulted in students getting jobs at places at graduation rather than beyond,” English said. “These firms would typically hire after bar results.”

English said the law school plans to expand the program to better prepare students, along with the other programs the college already offers.

“We’re creating opportunities for our students,” he said. “I want to give students the tools and the education to recognize the things they need to do while they’re in law school to secure the job they want post-graduation.”

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