Thursday, October 27, 2011
The negative attention heaped on law schools of late seems to have made an impression on would-be law students.
In a survey by law school admissions consulting firm Veritas Prep [Inside the Minds of Law School Applicants], 68% of the prospective lawyers queried said they would still apply to law school even if they understood that a significant number of graduates would be unable to find jobs in their desired field. That figure had fallen from 81% one year ago.
The National Association for Law Placement reported that the class of 2011 had the lowest employment rate since 1996. Only 68% of graduates had landed jobs requiring a J.D. nine months after graduation.
The survey appeared to confirm that attitudes were changing toward a legal education. In 2011, the number of law school applicants dropped by 10%.
Other survey findings:
- [O]nly 26% of respondents believe they will always be able to find a job if they have a JD, a 9% decrease from last year’s results.
- Finding a job that allowed them to pay off their student loan debt (73%) supplanted last year’s top issue, which was finding an appealing long-term career path (68% of respondents as opposed to 79% of respondents in 2010).
- Although the number of respondents (21%) relying on grants and scholarships remained unchanged, the number expecting to finance their education through student loans grew substantially, from 38% in 2010 to 49% in 2011. Perhaps somewhat related to this increase was the fact that in 2011 only 9% of respondents indicated parental support would help them finance the degree, as opposed to the 14% expecting parental support last year.
- Location continues to be the most important factor in selecting a law school (71% this year). Although prestige and ranking continue to be important considerations (64% in 2011), this year career placement rate displaced prestige and ranking as the number two consideration, with 67% of respondents considering it a high priority (versus last year’s 62%). Additionally, the affordability of a legal education has assumed a higher priority for respondents: 60% (versus last year’s 54%) cited it as a consideration in the law school selection process.
Update: ABA Journal, Poll Finds Would-Be Law Students Are Getting the Message About Scarce Jobs