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It’s a record year for Wisconsin law schools

The University of Wisconsin Law School has its largest enrollment of 1Ls since 2009. (Staff photo by Erika Strebel)

The University of Wisconsin Law School has its largest enrollment of 1Ls since 2009. (Staff photo by Erika Strebel)

It’s a record year for Wisconsin’s two law schools.

For the first time, women outnumber men among Marquette University Law School’s first-year students. Of the 190 1Ls that started this fall at Marquette, 52.1 percent are women and 47.9 are percent men.

Drawing attention to another remarkable fact, Dean Joseph Kearney noted that 49.5 percent of the students are from places outside Wisconsin — including 29 other states.

“That is likely the largest percentage of out-of-state students ever to matriculate at Marquette Law School,” he said.

Meanwhile, at the University of Wisconsin Law School, the current crop of 1Ls is the biggest the school has had since 2009.

The 1L class this year numbers 275 students, according to Rebecca Scheller, UW Law School assistant dean for admissions and financial aid. The 1L class for 2017 was quite a bit smaller — having only 151 students.

The last time UW Law School had a first-year class numbering more than 200 students was in 2012. That 1L class had 242 students. The numbers this year are roughly equivalent to what they were in 2009 and earlier, Scheller said.


190 the number of first-year students that started at Marquette University Law School this fall

1,426 the number of applications MU Law School received this year

275 the number of first-year students that started at the University of Wisconsin Law School’s 1L class for 2018

1712 the number of applications UW Law School received this year

She says she thinks the reason the class is so big is because applications are up by 25 percent over what they were in the previous year. The law school received 1,712 applications this year.

“I guess I was calling it the year of the Badger because I think there was just a tremendous interest in our law school this year,” Scheller said. “We made offers to people who we thought would be a great fit in this class, and more people than usual took us up on those offers.”

As a result of the larger class size, the law school opened more sections of Legal Research and Writing and hired two legal-writing instructors.

Scheller said one thing he and others at the school needn’t worry about is space. The Law Building is big enough to accommodate a class three times the size of the 1L class that has enrolled this year.

“Some of our great professors have stepped up to either teach in a semester they wouldn’t otherwise or course they wouldn’t otherwise,” she said. “It has worked out well so far.”

While Dean Margaret Raymond said that this year’s record number of 1L students is positive and exciting for the law school, she wouldn’t say that the school has recovered completely from the effects of the recent recession.

“The last several years have been a challenging time to recruit law students, and notwithstanding this year, I think that’s likely to continue to be the case,” she said.

Like UW Law School, Marquette also saw an increase in applications. The applicant pool this year was nearly 22 percent larger than that for last year, according to Kearney. According to the law school’s website, the school received 1,426 applications.

The increase in applications at both law schools follows a national trend. Earlier this year, the Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, reported that the number of law-school applications submitted this year was up by 8 percent over what it was last year, showing the only significant increase since 2010.

About Erika Strebel,

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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