Paul L. Caron

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The 'Trump Bump' Grows As College Grads From Both Sides Of The Political Spectrum Flock To Law School

LSAT TrumpChicago Tribune, After Trump's Election, More Students Consider Law School, Hoping to Make a Difference:

[There is] a group of students across the political spectrum who were so moved by last November’s election that they decided to take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, because they view law school as a means to making a difference

In the past year, the number of people taking the test, which is administered nationally four times a year, has surged. In February, 21,400 people took it, up 5.4 percent from a year earlier. In June, the number of test-takers was up 19.8 percent year-over-year, to 27,606 people. And the number of people who took the test in September rose 10.7 percent from a year ago, to 37,146 people. As of Oct. 30, registrations for the Dec. 2 exam were up 21.4 percent.

It’s been called the “Trump bump” by some in the legal community who believe strong reactions to the current political climate are spurring people on both sides of the political spectrum into action. ...

“It may very well be that more recent college grads and early professionals are choosing to pursue careers in which they believe they can truly make a difference,” said Don Rebstock, associate dean of strategic initiatives at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law.

Legal educators theorize that one of the major motivators for the recent spike in LSAT takers is Trump’s controversial executive order, issued shortly after his inauguration in January, halting refugee admissions and temporary travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries. Blocked by the courts, Trump issued two subsequent travel bans. ...

“People against Trump are saying, ‘I want to be the judge that stood up to him.’ People for Trump are saying, ‘I could’ve won that case for him’,” said Kellye Testy, president and CEO of the Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT. “Young people were saying, ‘Wow, the lawyers are really stepping up to talk back to power and help guard the rule of law and democracy.’ The positive role of a lawyer was made visible in a way that it’s often not.” ...

But politics isn’t the only explanation for the recent surge in law school interest, according to Noascono. Schools are doing a better job of marketing themselves to potential students, she said. ...

[P]re-law advisers say they are swamped with students considering law school. “It is still quite early in the process but I can say that we are outpacing the LSAT test-taker increase,” said Northwestern’s Rebstock. ...

Increased interest in the profession doesn’t necessarily mean the job market is ready for them. Employment of lawyers is expected to grow about 9 percent between 2016 and 2026, on average with other jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there’s a catch: More people are graduating with law degrees than there are jobs available, making for a competitive job market. ...

The job market is “way better than it was in the worst of the aftermath of the recession,” said James Leipold, executive director of the National Association of Law Placement. “It’s not nearly as good as it was in the glory days before the recession.”

Update:  ABA Journal, Increase in LSAT Test Takers Is Seen as Evidence of 'Trump Bump'

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage of the Trump bump:

Legal Education | Permalink


" That did help my career in tax law as I learned it was not necessary to like my clients."

I just switched to being a concierge CPA (flat fee, all you can eat). My number one rule for accepting a client is I have to like you.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Nov 19, 2017 10:12:49 AM

Mike Livingston said " It's a cynical thing to say, but the longer Trump is around, the higher applications will go."

I presume this will benefit law schools - warm bodies paying for seats. But will it benefit the applicants? Will their passion for/against Trump increase the number of jobs? How does this end well?

Posted by: aircav65 | Nov 19, 2017 8:07:08 AM

It's a cynical thing to say, but the longer Trump is around, the higher applications will go

Posted by: mike livingston | Nov 19, 2017 3:01:06 AM

The number of people taking the LSAT grows as LSAC continues to expand the number of times per year it gives the LSAT! Wow! And of course LSAT takers != law school applicants != law school matriculants, and by the very act of borrowing $150k to $300k in federal dollars to go to law school, you put your fate under direct control of Trump and Devos. And for the millionth time, the GOP is planning to roll back IBR plans and federal lending when the HEA gets reauthorized. Whoops.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 18, 2017 11:18:32 AM

God help us all. So they fantasize about standing up to Trump by overruling his temporary travel ban. English translation - screw the actual law (of which they know nothing since they haven't attended law school) because they feel Trump is wrong.

They, whether for or against Trump, have pre-determined the correct outcome and need only make the law fit Google Procrustes. One need not go through the messy and time-consuming legislative route if the law is malleable.

Note to test takers - but will there be more lawyer jobs because of Trump. If not, what are you doing?

I did work in Legal Aid while in law school and found that I often could not help the clients i liked, while being able to win the legal case of clients I detested. That did help my career in tax law as I learned it was not necessary to like my clients.

Posted by: aircav65 | Nov 18, 2017 10:37:31 AM

The ongoing shift in power from elected to unelected and unaccountable officials worries me. We could amend the Constitution to elect judges, but what about regulators?

Posted by: AMTbuff | Nov 18, 2017 7:36:09 AM