Law Schools Strive to Better Prepare Students to Find Jobs

By Catherine Groux
Posted November 21, 2012 10:00 AM

Law schools are striving to help students in the struggling job market.
Law schools are striving to help students in the struggling job market.
Today, many law school students report they are satisfied with their education. However, these individuals are under a great deal of pressure to pass the bar exam and find a job in a stubborn economy, and it is up to their schools to adequately prepare them for both. To ensure they are giving their students the knowledge and skills they need to be successful, many institutions are looking at their curricula and determining where they can make improvements. 

Many Law Schools Not Properly Preparing Students

An October survey by Kaplan Bar Review found that many law school graduates do not feel their education adequately prepared them for the single most important test in the legal careers  - the bar exam. About one in four law school graduates said they do not feel their education prepared them to do well on the bar, an exam they need to pass to practice law.

Still, even when students do pass the bar, they must ensure their education has given them the knowledge and skills necessary to find a position in an increasingly competitive job market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the number of jobs for lawyers will increase by about 10% through 2020, which is as fast as average for all occupations. However, as more students opt to go to law school, new lawyers are facing the toughest job market in almost two decades. 

Law Schools Try to Revamp Their Programs

In order to better prepare future lawyers to pass the bar and enter a bullish job market, many law schools are making bold moves to revamp their programs. A new survey by Kaplan Test Prep shows that 68% of law schools have already redesigned their curricula to make students more "practice ready." An additional 5% said they have decided to revamp their curricula, but have yet to implement the changes.

Additionally, as the competition for legal positions grows, many law schools are reducing their class sizes. According to the survey, 51% of law schools have already cut the size of their incoming class, while 28% said they are likely to do so for the current application cycle.

"With the supply of new lawyers outpacing the available number of positions for new lawyers, this is the most critical time for legal education in decades," said Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs for Kaplan Test Prep. "Our survey shows that law schools are taking much-needed action to better prepare new lawyers for the changing job landscape, while at the same time accepting fewer students, as they know jobs will not be easy to come by."

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