Sunday, March 27, 2016
A new Gallup poll surveyed 7,000 law grads from seven participating law schools in the southeastern U.S. and found that slightly less than half said they "strongly agreed" that if they could do it all over again, they'd still go back to law school while 67% either "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that they'd do it all over again if they could. Here are more highlights from the poll's executive summary:
Among other notable insights from this study, Access Group study participants have been successful in gaining employment, with 72 percent reporting that they work full time for an employer. This is higher than the rates for J.D. holders (66 percent), other graduate degree holders (56 percent) and bachelor’s degree holders (56 percent) nationally.
However, the data show that it is more challenging for Access Group study participants who obtained their law degree from 2010-2015 than for graduates from earlier years to obtain a good job upon graduation from their law degree program. Respondents were asked about how long it took for them to obtain what they perceive as a “good job” upon graduation. Slightly less than half (48 percent) of Access Group study participants who received their degree from 2000-2015 say they had a “good job” waiting for them after they completed their law degree, compared with more than 60 percent of graduates in earlier decades. Recent graduates are also less likely than graduates from earlier decades to say that their law school prepared them well for their career (35 percent vs. 48 percent or more). On the other hand, ratings of the helpfulness of career service offices at these schools are higher among more recent graduates than among graduates in earlier decades, suggesting that while perceptions of career services have improved, law schools might need to re-evaluate their strategies to help graduates find jobs more quickly given the current job market conditions.
But simply having a job is not enough. Engaged workers are essential to the organizations for which they work. They are more loyal, more productive and more profitable than those who are not engaged or are actively disengaged. About half (49 percent) of employed Access Group study participants are engaged in their work, regardless of whether they are practicing law. This is higher than the rates at the national level for J.D. holders (45 percent), other graduate degree holders (44 percent) and bachelor’s degree holders (38 percent). Fourteen percent of Access Group study participants are thriving in all five areas of well-being, similar to the 13 percent of J.D. holders nationally. At the national level, J.D. holders and other graduate degree holders are more likely than those with solely a bachelor’s degree to be thriving in all five elements of well-being. Access Group study participants outperformed national averages for J.D. holders and other graduate degree holders in the area of community well-being; this means Access Group participants are more engaged in the areas where they live. However, Access Group study participants are less likely to be thriving in the area of financial well-being (45 percent) compared with J.D. holders (49 percent) and other graduate degree holders (51 percent) nationally.
Twelve percent of Access Group study participants strongly agree that they had each of three support experiences while attending law school: having professors who cared about them as people, at least one professor who made them excited about learning and a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams. This level of support is equal to the 12 percent of bachelor’s degree holders nationally who felt supported while obtaining their undergraduate degree. However, Access Group graduates distinguish themselves in the area of excitement about learning. Access Group study participants are more likely than bachelor’s degree holders nationally to recall having at least one professor who made them excited about learning in law school.
Graduates who strongly agree that they participated in an internship or job that allowed them to apply what they were learning in the classroom during law school are 1.4 times more likely to report that they had a good job waiting for them when they graduated than are their peers who strongly disagree that they had this valuable experience. The odds of employed Access Group study participants being engaged at work are 2.7 times higher if they recall both feeling supported and having a job or internship where they could apply what they were learning in the classroom.
Slightly less than half (48 percent) of Access Group study participants strongly agree that if they could go back and do it all over again, they would still get a law degree. Access Group study participants who are currently practicing law are equally as likely as graduates who are not practicing law to strongly agree that they would still get a law degree if they could go back and do it all over again. Recent Access Group study participants are less likely than graduates from earlier decades to strongly agree that they would still get their law degree if they could go back and do it all over again: 37 percent strongly agree among recent (2000-2015) graduates, versus 54 percent among 1980-1999 graduates and 68 percent among 1960-1979 graduates. However, these results could also reflect that more recent graduates have had less time to realize the value of their law degree than alumni who received their law degrees earlier.
You can read the full poll results here.