We’ve devoted a lot of coverage around here to efforts at forcing law schools to be more transparent about the true employment opportunities for law graduates. We’ve screamed at the ABA, at NALP, and at law school deans themselves. We’ve begged them to just tell the truth about jobs to would-be law students.
Maybe it’s been a colossal waste of breath. Maybe, at the end of the day, prospective law students just don’t care whether or not they’ll ever be able to get a job. Maybe trying to get them to think about their own futures before they leap into law school is as effective as trying to convince a lemming not to follow his brothers off of the cliff. Maybe they just don’t want to learn.
A new study from Kaplan asked students what factors they considered before choosing a law school. Getting a job barely made the list. I say again, getting a job barely made the list of things people consider when choosing a professional school. You simply cannot help people who won’t help themselves….
Kaplan asked 1,383 students who took the LSAT in October, “What is most important to you when picking a law school to apply to?” You can see the full results here. A plurality of students said that law school rankings were the most important thing to them. That’s not surprising. It’s almost comically dumb, but not surprising.
What’s surprising was the breakdown of other factors:
According to the results, 30% say that a law school’s ranking is the most critical factor, followed by geographic location at 24%; academic programming at 19%; and affordability at 12%. Only 8% of respondents consider a law school’s job placement statistics to be the most important factor.
These people are dead to me. What is the point of going to a highly ranked school if you can’t get a job? Is it just that you want to run around saying “I got into a top fifty law school” when you are sitting around on your couch, in six figures of debt, with no hope of full-time legal employment? Apparently, yes. Yes, that’s what people want. They want to go to a prestigious school as an end in and of itself, not as a means to an end — namely, getting a job.
You can’t reason with these people. Nearly 20% of people think something stupid, like whether or not the law school has a freaking advanced class in International Constitutional Interpretation and Variations on Scissor Sex and The Law, is the most important thing to consider, while only 8% think getting a job is what they should be most concerned with.
Of course, despite being blissfully unconcerned about getting a job, they’re sure they’ll get one. According to the survey, 52% of respondents said they were “very confident” they’ll get a job. But only 16% were “very confident” their peers would get jobs. We’ve seen this kind of hubris before. Clearly, these kids know the economy is tough, but they think they will be the only ones to rise up out of this mess. I guess you can’t expect kids to be self-aware when they’ve been told they are “Mommy’s little angels” their whole lives.
But I thought you could expect them to ask the right questions. These people want to be lawyers, for God’s sake — asking appropriate questions and identifying relevant information is right in the freaking job description. But only 8% were able to identify the most important thing from the list. Please tell me again how the LSAT tests anything that can remotely be described as intelligence! In the issue-spotter of life, these people are failing.
Some people will argue that the reason people care so little about job statistics is that they don’t trust the statistics. If better statistics were available, they’d care more. Not to be circular, but I think that if they cared more, job statistics would be better. If there was a demand by prospective law students to see accurate job placements stats, I promise you U.S. News would start to care. And once U.S. News cares, everybody cares.
So sadly, I must say that these people — the 92% of people who said that something other than “jobs” was their most important consideration — these people deserve everything that is about to happen to them. They deserve every rejection letter, every useless moment they spend at career services, every no offer, every terrifying moment of 3L recruiting, every contract/staff attorney position, every second they think about moving to India, every $1,000 a month Craigslist ad, every yearly tuition hike, and every menacing phone call from every creditor. They deserve it all.
Only 8% of respondents thought job placement was the most important factor. I really don’t want to hear from the other 92% 18 months from now.
Earlier: The Hubris of Would-Be Lawyers