Pre-law students say ranking more important than job placement

Pre-law students still value rankings over employments statistics, according to a Kaplan survey.

Thirty-two percent of the 645 responses to the survey said that a law school’s ranking was most important when determining which school to attend. Only 8 percent said that a law school’s job-placement statistics as most important.

The results are similar to a 2010 survey conducted by Kaplan, yet this year’s respondents place an even higher percentage on rankings.  This suggests that recent reports decrying the dangers of rankings and stressing the importance of job prospects are not getting through to applicants. Last week, the ABA reported that employment rates for the class of 2011 are the lowest in 18 years.

The responses, elicited from students in Kaplan’s LSAT prep course, even placed the importance of job prospects below other factors: 22 percent said geographic location was the most important, 20 percent said academic programming, 13 percent said affordability/tuition.  In the 2010 survey, students ranked the factors in the same order.

The survey also highlighted the discrepancy between students’ expectations of jobs and the recent reality of the job market. Thirty eight percent of those surveyed said they hoped to work in a large law firm. Recent ABA reports show that roughly 10 percent of the class of 2011 landed jobs in firms with more than 100 attorneys.

“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,” according to a statement released by Kaplan.