TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Bloom Is Coming Off the Law School Rose for Prospective Students

National Law Journal, The Bloom Is Coming Off the Rose for Prospective Law Students:

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

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