First-year enrollment at Boston College Law School increased by 40 percent this past year due to a heightened interest in law careers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Boston Business Journal.
“Due to last year’s unprecedented nationwide interest in attending law school, we and many other highly selective schools saw a significant increase in both applications and in accepted students who chose to enroll,” Nate Kenyon, director of marketing and communications and senior advisor to the dean at BC Law, wrote in an email to The Heights.
Enrollment also increased significantly at six other law schools in the Boston area—Boston University, Harvard University, New England Law Boston, Northeastern University, Suffolk University, and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
The Boston Business Journal wrote that first-year enrollment rose at these six schools and BC Law by a combined 13 percent this fall—more than triple the rate it had increased the previous year.
Though many schools saw enrollment increases, BC Law’s rising enrollment figures were comparatively large. According to the Boston Business Journal, the school’s first-year enrollment jumped by 40 percent from 2020, ahead of BU’s enrollment increase of 26 percent.
With the surge in law applicants, many law schools could be more selective with their admissions, the Boston Business Journal wrote. The acceptance rate at BC Law fell from 31.8 percent in 2020 to 23.5 percent in 2021.
For the Class of 2024, the law school enrolled 353 J.D. students out of 6,368 applications, according to BC Law’s website. The students, ranging in age from 21 to 38, represent 31 states, Washington D.C., and 14 countries. Thirty-two percent of the class is made up of students of color.
“We welcomed the most diverse and one of the strongest classes in BC Law’s history this fall,” Kenyon wrote.
Shang Yang, BC Law ’24, is a member of the newly enrolled class. Yang said she wants to be part of the generation that makes legal aid more easily accessible for families like hers—those without access to proper legal aid because of economic disadvantages and immigration.
For Yang, the pandemic did not change her plans to attend law school.
“I always wanted to go to law school and I did apply,” Yang said. “[it was] like the year of COVID, and it didn’t really change me wanting to go.”
Jason Jose, BC Law ’24, waited a year longer to apply to law school than he had originally planned, not knowing he would apply just before the start of the pandemic.
“I thought, ‘Oh man, of course the year I decided to defer on applying is the year that you know, the whole world is alight and everyone wants to go to law school,’” Jose said.
Still, Jose went through with his application.
“I knew that I just wanted to get to law school as soon as possible,” he said. “And despite whatever would happen because of this whole season, I knew that wherever I go, I’m just going to make the best of it.”
This new class makes up 41 percent of the total enrollment of 866 J.D. students at BC Law.
Kenyon said BC Law made a number of changes to accommodate the increase of students.
“In order to properly support them, we added a 4th section and increased our faculty, course offerings, and support staff and services,” he wrote.
Law schools typically split students from their first-year classes into smaller sections that take classes with one another. In fall of 2020, for example, BC Law had three sections for its first-year class.
Jose said he believes everyone is still able to get to know each other with the added fourth section.
“I think because of the sections—how law school is separated by sections—I think we’re all still able to get good relationships with our fellow students,” he said.
According to Kenyon, BC Law has had a successful year so far.
“We are pleased to report that the semester has been successful and the students’ experience has been overwhelmingly positive,” Kenyon wrote.
Jose said studying at BC Law has been an incredibly rewarding experience.
“I am very proud already to be a part of BC, to be part of the community here, and to be part of the law school, and I’m very excited to see how the future is going to play out,” Jose said.
Update 1/8/22 12:50 a.m.: This article has been updated to include interviews from students at BC Law.
Featured Graphic by Annie Corrigan / Heights Editor