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Giving Pre-Law Folks What They Want: Clinics

By William Peacock, Esq. on February 12, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Here's a question that is asked often: why are people still applying to law school? (Answer: likely a combination of lack of a better option and pre-lawyerly arrogance that they will succeed where tens of thousands of others have failed.)

Here's another one: knowing what they know about the legal job market, what are these applicants looking for in a school? After all, beating their heads against casebooks for three years isn't going to help them when they have to hang shingles in 2017 or so.

Another Day, Another Survey

Kaplan says that 1,400 pre-law students, polled from their LSAT prep courses, think law school could use some tweaking. Yep, they're headed to law school, but think law school needs fixing.

Nonetheless, the survey says that 58 percent think law school should be two years of pain, rather than three. Compare that with 63 percent of law school grads who shared the sentiment in a previous Kaplan survey.

Why? Our best guess is that two years is cheaper. Plus, a third year of casebooks arguably brings very diminishing returns. (We'll reiterate our prior argument that a two-year model probably means that schools will churn out more graduates, increasing competition for jobs.)

The really interesting finding, however, is that students really want clinics. Take note, admissions officers -- 97 percent of respondents want clinical education in the hopes of being "practice ready." (Yeah, good luck with that.)

Who Has Clinics?

The survey was well-timed, as Paul Caron of TaxProf Blog just passed along the National Jurist's rankings for law schools with clinical opportunities. Note that the rankings are quantitative, not qualitative. If the school calls it a clinic, it counts. Here are the top five:

Clinical Positions 2013 Enrollment FT 2013 %
1 Yale Law School 636 615 103.4
2 University of Utah 341 381 89.5
3 University of the District of Columbia 161 216 74.5
4 University of Wisconsin 457 690 66.2
5 North Carolina Central University 241 481 50.1

The full rankings, methodology, etc. are available at the National Jurist.

Yale has more than 100 percent? These rankings are making our brains hurt. Either way, pre-law folks, compare these rankings to the U.S. News rankings and remember: no matter how many clinic spots they report, your job opportunities are still going to be better at more prestigious schools.

In short: U.S. News Top 5 >>> Counting Clinic Chairs Top 5.

Are you applying to law school? Why? And are clinics a significant factor? Tell us about it on Facebook.

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