Law Students

Prospective Law Students May Have Unrealistic Expectations about Law School
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Potential law students may be surprised once they start attending law school.

Summary: Kaplan conducted separate surveys that reveal what law students want from law schools, and what law schools really offer.

Kaplan Test Prep recently conducted surveys of both pre-law students and law school admissions officers to evaluate their expectations as they start their journeys to a juris doctor degree. The results show that students may be surprised when it comes to the law school experience.


The results show that 77 percent of pre-law students would like to learn in a collaborative culture, and that 23 percent prefer a competitive culture. However, only 2 percent of law schools consider their campuses competitive, with 98 percent reporting that their law school culture is collaborative.

Here’s an article about the best 20 law schools in the United States.

In addition, the majority (58 percent) of pre-law students prefer an individual emphasis in law school curricula. Roughly 42 percent seek a team emphasis. Of the law schools surveyed, approximately one-third reported that their coursework is focused on the individual; the majority reported that their schools are team-focused.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!

Students may also be surprised to learn that 85 percent of law schools report that their environments are casual, and 11 percent report that theirs are formal. Around 55 percent of the students surveyed stated that they prefer a casual environment, and 45 percent would enjoy a more formal environment.

Here’s an article about how law students are gaining control over the admissions process.

When asked about the leniency of professors, most students (53 percent) prefer a more laid-back professor, and the remaining 47 percent would like strict professors. However, attending law school may be a harsh reality for most students, as 56 percent of the law schools reported that their professors were strict in their classes.

One area where students and schools see eye-to-eye is having practice-ready coursework. 74 percent of students demand practice-ready courses, and 26 percent prefer a more academic-based curriculum. Around 77 percent of law schools reported that their curriculum is practice-based, with 23 percent stating their schools are more academic-centered.

Here’s an article about another Kaplan survey that predicts an increase in law school applications.

As far as campus size, the minority of students (16 percent) would like to be in a large law school with big class sizes. The remaining 84 percent prefers smaller classes. A whopping 92 percent of law schools state that they maintain small class sizes.

Law schools and pre-law students are also on the same page with the Socratic method. 72 percent of students want their professors to use the Socratic method in their teachings, and 75 percent of law schools report that it is used.

Do you think most law students know what law school will really be like?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Finally, roughly 63 percent of students would like an interdisciplinary curriculum, and the majority (82 percent) state that they have an interdisciplinary course offering, as opposed to specialty-focused schools.

Jeff Thomas, the executive director of pre-law programs at Kaplan Test Prep, said, “Law school culture is one of those things that’s not necessarily incorporated into schools’ reputations or rankings, so pre-law students should do some digging to find out which law school best suits their individual tastes. Culture is also a matter of perception, which illustrates why speaking with current students, alumni and professors is so important. We’d also point out that while the survey results give a good general overview of how law schools view themselves, it might be somewhat challenging to place a program into one bucket or another. For most law schools, the reality may be somewhere in between.”

However, law schools should take notice of what law students want, according to Thomas. He explains, “While entry into law school remains competitive, it’s also clear that law schools are sometimes fighting over the best students because there are far fewer applicants now than there were a decade ago. This means intangibles like culture can make a difference. We also think it’s encouraging to see both pre-laws and law schools both recognizing the importance of a practice-ready curriculum. If law schools and the legal job marketplace are to thrive again, it is going to take new thinking like this.”

Photo credit:



Civil Associate Attorney


Law firm seeking a general civil litigation associate with 5+ years of civil litigation experience. ...

Apply now

Associate Attorney

USA-CA-San Diego

Brightside Law Group is growing! We are looking for an Associate Attorney to join our Special Educat...

Apply now

Associate Attorney

USA-CA-San Diego

Brightside Law Group is growing! We are looking for an Associate Attorney to join our Special Educat...

Apply now

Paralegal / Data Analyst


Kalijarvi Chuzi Newman & Fitch (KCNF), a boutique employment law firm, seeks a full-time Paralegal t...

Apply now




Search Now

Junior to Mid-level Investment Management Associate Attorney

USA-NY-New York City

New York City office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks junior to mid-level investme...

Apply Now

Mid-level Debt Finance Associate Attorney

USA-CA-San Francisco

San Francisco office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks mid-level debt finance-focus...

Apply Now

Senior Business and Corporate Law Attorney


Murrieta office of our client seeks a senior business and corporate law attorney with 3+ years of bu...

Apply Now

Most Popular


To Top