CHICAGO, Jan. 30, 2004 The number of students enrolled in the fall of 2003 in Juris Doctor programs at American Bar Association-approved law schools increased by 3.6 percent over the previous year, according to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

The data show the overall fall 2003 J.D. enrollment increased to 137,676, from 132,901 in fall 2002, at 187-approved law schools. The year-to-year increase was 4,775 students, the second largest increase in enrollment in the last 24 years. The enrollment increase of 5,291 from fall 2001 to fall 2002 was the largest in more than two decades, bringing the two-year increase in J.D. enrollment to more than 10,000.

Although first-year enrollment only increased by approximately 1 percent to 48,867 between the fall of 2002 and the fall of 2003, it is a record high. The back-to-back first-year enrollments of more than 48,000 stand in sharp contrast to relatively stable first-year enrollments of the 1990s, which ranged from 42,200 to 44,300.

Minority enrollment increased slightly as a percentage of total J.D. enrollment, to 20.6 percent in fall 2003 from 20.4 percent in fall 2002. Total minority enrollment increased in the last school year by 1,177, or 4.3 percent, to 28,346.

The total female J.D. enrollment increased by 1,844, or 2.8 percent, to 67,027. However, first-year female student enrollment decreased by 219 in the fall of 2003 from its peak of 23,587 the previous year. The decrease marked only the second time since 1982 that first-year female enrollment dropped while first-year male enrollment increased. Over recent years first-year female enrollment steadily increased as a percentage of first-year enrollment, approaching but never becoming a majority of first-year students. As a percentage of first-year students, women dropped to 47.8 percent this year compared to 48.8 percent the previous year.

Males comprise 51.3 percent of the J.D. enrollment for fall 2003, while females comprise 48.7 percent.