Paul L. Caron

Friday, August 16, 2019

How Trump Is Saving Law Schools And Hurting Business Schools

Bloomberg, Trump Is Driving Women Into Law School:

A few short years ago, law schools were falling out of favor with young Americans looking for a route to affluence, influence, or both. Business schools, on the other hand, were attracting more students than ever.

This year, the number of applicants to U.S. law schools is up an estimated 3.2%, after rising 8.1% last year. Graduate business schools in the U.S. saw a 6.6% decline in applications last year, and indications are that applications are down again this year as well.

What changed? Donald Trump became president, silly!

OK, there are some other factors at work, especially at business schools, where the traditional MBA (master’s in business administration) is falling out of favor even as other programs gain. But President Trump’s policies and utterances really do seem to be driving more young Americans to go to law school while at the same driving foreign students away from U.S. business schools. Right now this shift matters mainly to people who work at law schools and business schools, but it will affect certain high-end parts of the U.S. labor market for decades to come. ...

In legal circles this phenomenon has come to be called the “Trump bump,” which sounds about right. More precisely, with young people and college graduates both tending to give the president low approval ratings, it seems likely that most of these political-climate-inspired applicants are inspired by opposition to Trump and his policies. Also, all of this year’s and most of last year’s applicant gains were driven by women, who as a rule like the current president a lot less than men do. As recently as 2013, women were still a minority among applicants to U.S. law schools. This year they accounted for 55%. So U.S. law schools will for at least the next few years be churning out more smart, politically engaged, probably left-leaning lawyers, most of them women.

At U.S. business schools, the big Trump-related story is that foreign students are staying away. At the 400 U.S. business schools that reported international and domestic application volumes to the Graduate Management Admission Council, international applications fell 10.5% in 2018.

(Hat Tip: Tracey Roberts)

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


Steve once again confuses lawyer employment with successful post-law school graduation employment as lawyers; the former is, by definition, comprised only of people who survive the latter. And lest we forget, Steve's own law school has featured unemployment rates 10 months after graduation in the 20% to 30% range several times since the Great Recession.

Also per NALP's own data run through an inflation calculator the median starting salary for law school grads from the class of 2018 was about 17% lower than for law school grads a decade earlier. Fact. And the number of FT/LT/license-required jobs as reported to the ABA is thousands less than DURING the Great Recession. Fact. Facts are tricky things for law schools.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 19, 2019 8:50:50 AM

You write that "a law degree is rightly no longer seen as quite the path to a secure and remunerative career that it used to be." Thay may indeed be the perception, yet in reality, according to the BLS, lawyer employment has increased steadily every year for the past two decades or more and lawyer incomes have as well, with one exception in the wake of the global recession triggered by the credit crisis in 2008. Obtaining a JD remains a significant source of an income premium relative to going through life without such a degree.

Posted by: Stephen F. Diamond | Aug 16, 2019 11:11:05 PM

People who want to make national policy no longer need to run for President, or even Congress. They can become federal district court judges and slap the President with nationwide injunctions, thereby making America great again!

Posted by: AMTbuff | Aug 16, 2019 10:42:41 AM

Part of the problem is also that student visas are harder to get. We had a lot more students at our uni get denied student visas to study here, and that has a chilling effect on potential applicants this year (according to our recruiter and questions I’ve been asked by potential applicants).

Posted by: Lori McMillan | Aug 16, 2019 8:19:43 AM

Given that Senator Alexander is ramping up to reauthorize the HEA before year's end, a move that he will doubtless use to try to end GradPLUS loans, the very marrow of all law schools, I wouldn't go around high-fiving about the Trump bump just yet. If the dawning of 2020 reveals a world where law schools are cresting $100,000 per year but students can only borrow $28,500/year in federal student loans, well... that ain't hard math.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 16, 2019 7:15:12 AM