Over the past four years, some interesting trends have started to appear in law school applications. In my first two years as Dean, J.D. applications grew by 38% as many prospective students chose to invest in a legal education and hoped for a better job market on graduation. But over the past two years, applications have declined roughly 20% at Minnesota and about 25% nationally in the face of rising tuition costs and widely reported declines in legal employment.
Throughout this period, however, our international applications have increased by 69%. We have doubled our LL.M. program to about 50 students and expect it to continue to grow in the future. Students from abroad make up nearly 9% of our current first-year J.D. class, and we expect that percentage to increase as well.
Looking ahead, demographic changes and shifts in U.S. employment patterns suggest that applications from U.S. students will hold steady or decline, while applications from students abroad may continue to grow. At the same time, the most successful Law School graduates will likely be those who feel comfortable living and working in an increasingly global market.
For these reasons, among others, the Law School will continue to build its international programs and connections. I hope you will assist us in pursuing this goal and, in particular, that you will help us to continue to attract outstanding students from around the world.
Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law