Paul L. Caron

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Student Interest In Law School Has Ballooned During The Pandemic

Inside Higher Ed, Student Interest in Law School Rose During The Pandemic:

Student interest in legal education has ballooned in recent years, driven by the pandemic, the movement for racial justice and a hot job market, experts say.

“All the events that we’ve had—the pandemic, the Jan. 6 Capitol insurgence, the Black Lives Matter movement, the murder of George Floyd—everything has put a spotlight on why law matters,” said Kellye Testy, president and chief executive officer of the Law School Admission Council. “It’s galvanized in young people a desire to pursue justice and to find a way to contribute and to make a difference positively in the world. Law is always seen as a really good pathway for that.”

Flush with students, the U.S. legal education sector is undergoing some of its biggest changes in years. Law schools are amending their curricula to include more work experience and consideration for student well-being. LSAC, which administers the Law School Admission Test, is developing an undergraduate curriculum that could one day replace the test for some students. And a private university in Florida is planning to open its own law school—the first new one in eight years. ...

The quality of law education is also improving, Testy said. More institutions have begun pairing legal education with work experience—such as in legal clinics—allowing students to practice what they’re learning in class while assisting people who need legal help. ...

In addition to recent social and political events, a strong job market is driving students to pursue law. A recent report from the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity showed that of all advanced degrees, those in law and medicine offered the most lucrative returns. More than nine in 10 law programs offer graduates positive median returns, and a quarter yield a return on investment of more than $1 million.

“Law firms and companies that have big internal legal departments—they can’t find enough lawyers right now,” Testy said.

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