The “Trump Bump” theory is real. Earlier this year, Kaplan Test Prep released the results of a survey of over 500 pre-law students and found that 30 percent of respondents said the 2016 election impacted their decision to apply to law school. “We’ve seen significant jumps in both LSAT takers and law school applications over the past admissions cycle, which has fueled speculation about how much impact, if any, the 2016 election and subsequent political climate has had on this year’s law school admissions landscape. We now have an answer: It’s significant,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs at Kaplan.
Survey data released by BARBRI Law Preview, which includes responses from 500 pre-law students expected to matriculate into the Class of 2021, demonstrate a similar finding. When asked to provide a primary reason for attending law school, the top two most selected options “I have always wanted to be a lawyer” and “I want to advocate for change of social policies in the United States” garnered almost identical responses at 38.2 percent and 37.6 percent, respectively. The survey also found that almost 98 percent of respondents plan to practice law after graduation, with the plurality of respondents selecting public interest (13.5 percent) as the type of law which they want to practice. The next most selected choices were business (corporate) law (12.2 percent) and criminal law (12.0 percent). Furthermore, when asked where they would like to practice law, over half of the respondents reported that they would want to practice law as an attorney working for the government (33.9 percent) or for a non-profit/non-governmental organization (22.5 percent). 39.8 percent reported wanting to work for a private firm.
Lynn Page, a pre-law advisor at Northwestern University provides anecdotal evidence supporting the BARBRI survey findings when describing the students who she advises and their goals in a recent Chicago Tribune article. “If it’s not immigration (law), it’s an interest in public interest law. Most students are interested in civic engagement (and) social justice” she said.