Surveying the Law School Landscape

If you are a law school applicant, chances are you already heard about the recent LexisNexis survey that presented some pretty brutal sentiments among current law students. That said, it is still worth reviewing the survey summary and accompanying law-related blog posts to take in the carnage. Basically, when it comes to law school and the legal industry, nobody is happy.

The headline numbers from the survey are as follows:

  • 21% of law students “regret attending law school.”
  • 35% do not “feel adequately prepared to succeed in the new marketplace.”
  • 65% feel that “law schools don’t teach the practical skills needed in today’s economy.”

Yikes. That’s a lot of disappointment. And on top of that, as points out, the people hiring law students aren’t happy either, as 71% of clients feel that firms aren’t doing enough to cut costs and 77% of firm lawyers think their clients are being cheap and sacrificing quality.

It all boils down to frustration across the board with the process. What is interesting and ironic about this mess is that law school is arguably the easiest graduate program to adapt to new trends and econimic climates. It is a professional degree program that often occupies a more academic and esoteric space, rather than concentrating on vocation. So at a very basic philosophical level, law school has always had room to move toward being more practical. Beyond that, there is literally an entire academic year with which to work. Talk to any law student and ask them about their 3L year. In almost every instance, you will hear that students coasted, relaxed, got bored, explored hobbies, and basically just counted down the days until they graduated and had to take the bar. Virtually everyone knows that the third year of law school is a borderline waste of time. Given that there’s an entire year to play with and the desire from every interested party for more hands-on learning, it seems crazy that the discussion even persists.

It will be interesting to see if we have finally reached an apex in this ongoing debate about how law schools teach students and if changes are in the offing … or if this is just the latest flurry of commentary that dies out and leaves us with more of the same. It feels “big,” but so have other surveys and op-ed pieces and controversies. All we can do is wait and see how it shakes out.

But the bottom line is that today’s law school applicant needs to be aware of what is happening within law schools and out in the legal community. Surveys like this can help inform choices and create opportunities to express proper motivation (in the face of negative trends) — both of which are extremely important components of a law school application. If you need help deciding whether law school is right for you or if you need help with your law school applications, give us a call at (800) 925-7737.