Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Despite an Uncertain Employment Landscape, Law School Applicants Still Consider School Rankings Far More Important than Job Placement Rates When Deciding Where to Apply

Also: Pre-Law Students Want to Work in Big Law, Where the Big Money Often Is

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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 (June 19, 2012) – Say what you want about tomorrow’s lawyers, but they are a remarkably consistent bunch, with a 2012 survey on application influencers showing virtually identical results to one conducted two years earlier – despite continued job market uncertainty.  According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey*, despite the most competitive job market for new lawyers in a generation, pre-law students continue to place a much higher premium on where a law school places in the rankings than on how many of its graduates land jobs in the legal field.  When asked “What is most important to you when picking a law school to apply to?”, 32% cited a law school’s ranking; followed by geographic location at 22%; academic programming at 20%; and affordability/tuition at 13%.  At nearly the back of the pack?  A law school’s job placement statistics, which came in at 8%.  When Kaplan first asked the same question in October 2010, these factors ranked in the same exact order – though a school’s ranking actually increased in importance in this most recent survey.

In a related question asking, “How important a factor is a law school’s ranking in determining where you will apply?” 86% say ranking is “very important” or “somewhat important” in deciding where to apply to – the same exact percentage as in October 2010.

On the jobs front, 38% of pre-law students surveyed said they hoped to work in Big Law, where often the big money is**; 31% said they wanted to go into public interest law; 23% said they wanted to work for a boutique firm.  And showing the versatility of a law degree, 23% said they wanted to use their JD to go into politics at some point; another 23% said they wanted to use their degree for business purposes.  Their career aspirations closely mirror what their pre-law predecessors told Kaplan when asked the same question in an October 2010 survey.

“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,” says Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep***.  “But with some law schools cutting their number of seats and the job market tight, pre-law students may have to think more strategically now.  We continue to encourage pre-law students to look at a host of factors, including accurate job placement data, in helping them determine where to apply and enroll.”

To arrange an interview with a Kaplan Test Prep law school admissions expert, please contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212.453.7538.

*The survey was administered by email in June 2012 and included responses from 645 Kaplan LSAT students.

** Study from the National Association for Law Placement. More complete salary figures can be found here: http://www.nalp.org/classof2010_salpressrel

***From Forbes, March 13, 2012: “The Law Schools Whose Grads Earn The Most” – http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2012/03/13/the-law-schools-whose-grads-earn-the-most/

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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