What do Law Students Think About Law School?February 3, 2014
Between plunging enrollment and rising tuition, law schools have been getting plenty of negative press recently.
But what do law students think about their educational experience?
It’s a mixed bag, judging by the most recent Law School Survey of Student Engagement, which was released this week by Indiana University’s Center for Post-Secondary Research. The survey, now in its 10th year, polled more than 26,000 students at 86 U.S. law schools on their satisfaction with student services such as financial aid and career counseling, and on topics such as how much they interact with faculty outside of class.
In 2013 nearly two-thirds of students (65%) reported that their schools place “a substantial emphasis” on giving them the support they need to succeed academically, and 68% said they were satisfied with the financial aid advising they received.
“With all of the turmoil in legal education, students are in general pretty satisfied with what they are learning and how they are being treated at their schools,” said David Yellen, Dean of Loyola University Chicago School of Law, who wrote the introduction to this year’s survey.
But students seemed less happy with job search services and career counseling, which were rated unsatisfactory by 43% and 42% of respondents, respectively—not terribly surprising, given the challenging legal job market.
That unhappiness mounted the closer students got to graduation, Chad Christensen, the survey’s project manager, told Law Blog on Tuesday. For example, more than 70% of first-year law students said they were satisfied with job search help, compared with only about 45% of third-year students, according to the survey.
And some more recent shifts in legal education, such as a greater emphasis on hands-on experience and mentoring, have yet to reach a majority of students:
• Only 25% of 3Ls reported working frequently with faculty members on activity outside of coursework
• 43% of 3Ls said they never participated in a clinical or pro bono project
Additionally, students whose parents had doctoral or other professional degrees were also more likely to talk with law graduates and attorneys about their career paths:
This disparity among students is something that law schools can address by offering structured support for these conversations. In addition, by clarifying the importance of learning about the profession, along with drawing connections between classroom learning, conversations with lawyers, and popular and scholarly accounts of lawyers and their careers, learning about the legal profession can be strengthened.
Source: The Wall Street Journal Law Blog