Wednesday, June 20, 2012
[D]espite the most competitive job market for new lawyers in a generation, pre-law students continue to place a much higher premium on where a law school places in the rankings than on how many of its graduates land jobs in the legal field. When asked “What is most important to you when picking a law school to apply to?”, 32% cited a law school’s ranking; followed by geographic location at 22%; academic programming at 20%; and affordability/tuition at 13%. At nearly the back of the pack? A law school’s job placement statistics, which came in at 8%. When Kaplan first asked the same question in October 2010, these factors ranked in the same exact order –- though a school’s ranking actually increased in importance in this most recent survey.
In a related question asking, “How important a factor is a law school’s ranking in determining where you will apply?” 86% say ranking is “very important” or “somewhat important” in deciding where to apply to –- the same exact percentage as in October 2010.
On the jobs front, 38% of pre-law students surveyed said they hoped to work in Big Law, where often the big money is [although only 10% of the Class of 2011 landed jobs in Big Law]; 31% said they wanted to go into public interest law [only 6% of the Class of 2011 landed public interest law jobs; an additional 10% landed government law jobs]; 23% said they wanted to work for a boutique firm. And showing the versatility of a law degree, 23% said they wanted to use their JD to go into politics at some point; another 23% said they wanted to use their degree for business purposes. Their career aspirations closely mirror what their pre-law predecessors told Kaplan when asked the same question in an October 2010 survey.
“While it may seem counterintuitive that pre-law students aren’t placing greater importance on a school’s job placement stats, most applicants know that there is a direct correlation between where a student graduates from, their starting salary and career prospects, which is likely why rankings are consistently the most important consideration by far,” says Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep.
- ABA Journal, Prelaw Students Value Law School Ranking More than Employment Stats, Survey Shows
- National Law Journal, Survey Suggests Prospective Law Students Still Have Stars in Their Eyes