Survey Shows Many Students Choose Law Schools Based on Rankings

By Catherine Groux
Posted June 20, 2012 01:55 PM

Many students choose a law school based on its rankings.
Many students choose a law school based on its rankings.
Between 2010 and 2020, the number of jobs for lawyers is expected to rise by 10%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as more students decide to enroll in law school, the number of legal degree holders is growing faster than the number of jobs, creating one of the most competitive job markets for lawyers in decades.

Given the heavy competition for jobs after graduation, many students are giving even more thought to the law school they select, believing it could make the difference between employment and unemployment. Recently, Kaplan Test Prep released a survey to show what legal degree seekers consider when choosing the ideal law school, as well as where they hope to work once they graduate.

What Do Students Look for in a Law School?

According to the report, 32% of students said a law school's ranking is the most important factor to consider during the selection process. About 22% of these individuals said they value the college's geographic location the most, while 20% said they looked at a school's academic programming.

Despite intense employment competition, only 8% of law school students said the most important thing when picking an institution is its job placement rates. Although this may seem like a poor decision, Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs for Kaplan, said it makes sense that students value a school's ranking.

"While it may seem counterintuitive that pre-law students aren’t placing greater importance on a school’s job placement stats, most applicants know that there is a direct correlation between where a student graduates from, their starting salary and career prospects, which is likely why rankings are consistently the most important consideration by far," Thomas said. 

Where Do Law Students Hope to Work After Graduation?

After students pick the ideal law school, earn a legal degree and enter the workforce, they have the ability to land a job in many different legal sectors. The report shows that about 38% of pre-law students hope to work in Big Law, which typically means a large firm with 100 attorneys or more. At the same time, about 31% of students want to land a job in public interest law, while 23% said they hope to work for a boutique firm.

Still, some students want their legal degree to propel them into other fields. For example, 23% aspire to enter politics at some point, while another 23% said they hope to use their degree for business purposes.

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