Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Adapting to the Current Realities of the Employment Landscape for Lawyers, Half of Pre-Law Students Say They Plan to Use their Law School Degree in a Non-Traditional Legal Job

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

New York, NY (April 11, 2013) – The employment stats don’t paint a pretty picture for pre-law students looking ahead, but flexibility about their future career and their passion for it is driving them forward. According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey* of more than 200 pre-law students, 50% say they plan to use their law degree in a non-traditional legal field. Of that 50%, nearly three out of five (58%) said the current job market for lawyers factored into this decision. Forty-three (43%) percent of survey respondents overall said they plan to use their law degree to pursue a job in the business world rather than in the legal world—which helps explain why 42% said they’d likely pursue an MBA if they weren’t already pursuing a JD.

The growing interest in non-traditional legal jobs comes on the heels of the latest report from the American Bar Association which shows that just 56% of 2012 graduates secured long-term, full-time jobs that required bar passage—a 1% increase over the class of 2011.

Other results from the Kaplan Test Prep survey of pre-law students:

  • Most students say they’re motivated to go to law school by passion, not money: 71% say the primary reason they are applying to law school is “to go into a career I am passionate about.” Only 5% listed salary potential as the primary reason.
  • Passion only goes so far, without financial assistance: 43% say they are likely to postpone or alter their plans to attend law school if they don’t get the financial aid package they were hoping for. That line of thinking aligns with advice proffered by graduating law school students: in a separate Kaplan Bar Review survey** of third-year law students, 87% say a law school’s financial aid package should play a significant role in helping pre-law students determine where to enroll.

“We’ve always encouraged pre-law students to think about how to finance their legal education and what they can do with their degree, but with the recent contraction in the job market for lawyers, it’s clear that students are more concerned than ever about the financial investment in law school and are seeking assistance to ensure that they’ll get a strong return on that investment,” said Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep.

“Also, in addition to putting greater focus on prioritizing and planning, pre-law students are increasingly considering non-traditional career options. While we’d always counsel students to go to law school with the intent to practice law, society is filled with lawyers in all types of positions—politicians, lobbyists, authors, law enforcement officials, executives at professional sports leagues, and more—which shows that law degrees can be applied to a broad range of career options.”

To speak with a Kaplan Test Prep law school admissions expert about the survey and other issues in legal education, please contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212.453.7538.

*The online survey was conducted in February 2013 of 228 pre-law students who took a Kaplan LSAT course.
** The online survey was conducted in February 2013 of 264 law school students who took a Kaplan Bar Review course.

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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