We’ve posted about the jump in law school applications this year and also in the record number of students taking the LSAT. These increases may seem counterintuitive, given the beating the legal job market has taken over the past couple of years. Nationally, big law firms have deferred new hires, cut pay and laid off associates and even partners.
Not being able to find a job can be tough for a newly minted law grads, but a new study indicates that future law students are pretty optimistic about their own futures in the legal profession.
According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions survey of 330 pre-law students*, “52% report that they are “very confident” that they will find a job in the legal field after graduating law school and passing the bar, but only 16% say they are “very confident” that the majority of their fellow aspiring lawyers will do the same. In fact, only seven percent of respondents indicated a lack of confidence in their own ability to secure employment upon graduation. Pre-law students’ attitudes are in keeping with research showing that students aged 18-29 are more optimistic about their economic future – despite a sluggish job market – than past generations.”**
“Pre-law students’ confidence in their own job prospects are likely an indication not just of self-assurance, but of their optimism in an economic turnaround,” said Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. “What’s interesting is the drop-off in confidence in their peers, which perhaps may just be an indication of the general competitive atmosphere that exists between pre-law students.” Pre-law students will be able to draw on this “self-confidence” and “resilience” as 1Ls when they face an even more competitive law school environment.
Thomas also noted that he’s witnessed a growing number of pre-law students pursuing law degrees with the intent of seeking non-lawyer jobs. According to the National Association for Law Placement, as recently as 2008, only 56% of new law school graduates were working at a law firm, down from 64% in 1998.
Some other noteworthy points in the Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions survey:
•39% say that the economic downturn impacted their decision to apply to law school.
•Only 5% of those surveyed say they think it is a smart admissions strategy to send a Facebook friend request to law school admissions officers.
•If given the choice of submitting as part of their law school application a perfect 180 on the LSAT®, a perfect 4.0 GPA or a letter of recommendation from a Supreme Court justice, 80% would opt for a perfect LSAT® score.
* All survey participants were Kaplan students who took the LSAT in February 2010.
**Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next, Pew Research Center, February 2010
Kaplan’s Jeff Thomas was a guest on Law School Podcaster’s segment, The LSAT®: Everything You Need To Know About The Test. Listen to the full showto hear more from him about the LSAT®.