OXFORD and JACKSON — Applications from students wanting to attend Mississippi law schools are up, even as they head downward nationwide.
The Clarion Ledger reports Mississippi College had a record increase for the class beginning this fall, with 26 percent more applications than the previous year. At Ole Miss, last year’s applications were up 3 percent from those received for the fall 2010 class and up 42 percent from applications for 2009. Both schools say they are on track for similar numbers next fall.
The increases buck a national trend. The Law School Admissions Council said applications were down about 10 percent this fall, according to The Clarion Ledger.
The vast majority of applicants for both schools are from out-of-state, although that’s not always indicative of the students who are accepted and then decide to enroll.
Ole Miss received 1,656 applications for fall 2011, accepted 534 of those students and saw 178 enroll. MC received more applications but accepted 987 of the 1,712 applicants; 214 enrolled.
The final number of applications for next fall’s classes will be available in January.
Mississippi State University senior Taylor Luczak said he plans to attend law school, despite a tough economy.
“Yes, the economy is tough, but we’ve been in tougher situations,” Luczak said. “If you’re determined enough to do anything, it will happen.”
I. Richard Gershon, dean of Ole Miss’ law school, pointed to business development in the state, specifically the Winchester ammunition factory that opened in Oxford last month and the Toyota plant opening in Blue Springs next week, as examples of possible future opportunities for lawyers.
“There are a lot of industries that seem to be moving into our region, so I think students are attracted to that,” Gershon said.
Rocky Wilkins, a personal injury attorney who has been practicing law in Mississippi since 1999, said big businesses moving into the state will certainly create big business for lawyers. He offers the building of the Nissan plant in Canton, which opened in 2003, as an example.