Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Percentage of Pre-Law Students Considering a Future in Politics Drops – from 54% in 2009 to 38% Today

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Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Carina Wong, carina.wong@kaplan.com, 212.453.7571

New York, NY (March 8, 2012) – The shine off the Capitol dome may be losing its luster for pre-law students, a traditional bullpen for future politicians.  In a Kaplan Test Prep survey of 758 pre-law students conducted between December 2011 and February 2012, 38% said they would consider running for political office – a marked decline from the 54% who reported they were thinking about becoming candidates in 2009.  Within that 38% lies a glaring gender gap:  51% of male pre-law students would consider running, but only 29% of female pre-law students would consider it.

If the decline in political aspirations among pre-law students continues, it may fuel an existing and related trend: the decline in the number of lawyers serving in Congress:

  • Just 37% of members of the current Senate are lawyers, compared to the early 1970’s when it peaked at 51%.  Who’s been filling the gap?  Bankers and those from the business community, who make up 20% of today’s Senate.
  • Lawyers account for 24% of the current House of Representatives, down from a high of 43% in the early 1960’s.  That’s on par with members who’ve worked in banking and business at 21% – in fact, 22 current congressmen and congresswomen hold an MBA.

Many pre-law students surveyed don’t see that decline as necessarily a bad thing: 30% said they think that there are already too many lawyers involved in politics; 16% said there were too few, while 54% said the number was about right.

“The current contentious political climate has engendered a souring on politics among the general electorate, so it’s not entirely surprising that there’s less enthusiasm even among the current population of would-be lawyers, which traditionally produces a high percentage of politicians,” said Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep.  “That said, lawyers are still the most heavily-represented profession among members of Congress, which makes sense, as this is the body who writes U.S. law.”

Thomas notes that many of today’s top politicians are former practicing attorneys or hold JDs: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

For a 3-minute video news release on the survey’s findings, plus advice for students looking to get into politics, visit Kaplan LSAT’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/KaplanLSAT.

For more information about Kaplan Test Prep’s survey about pre-law students and politics, contact Russell Schaffer at 212.453.7538 or russell.schaffer@kaplan.com.  For the most up-to-date news on all of Kaplan’s research, follow on Twitter at @KapTestNews and visit Kaplan’s online press site at http://press.kaptest.com.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses.  Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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