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LSAT-Takers Cite Trump Presidency as Reason to Become a Lawyer

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LSAT-Takers Cite Trump Presidency as Reason to Become a Lawyer

Think all the talk this spring of a so-called “Trump Bump to law school enrollment was just wishful thinking on the part of law deans?

Think all the talk this spring of a so-called Trump Bump to law school enrollment was just wishful thinking on the part of law deans?

Think again.

A new survey of more than 500 recent and upcoming takers of the Law School Admission Test reveals that Trump and the current political climate is very much on the minds of many who are contemplating law school.

More than 24 percent of the 546 aspiring lawyers recently surveyed by Blueprint LSAT Preparation cited Trump and politics as their most important reason for wanting to become a lawyer. That reason was second only to a desire for a prestigious career, which more than 42 percent of respondents said was their primary motivation.

The survey adds to the mounting evidence that upheaval in Washington is, in fact, inspiring more people to pursue law. The number of people who took the LSAT in June which is widely viewed as the kickoff of the upcoming application season surged nearly 20 percent from the previous year. It was the largest single increase since September of 2009. Registrations for the upcoming LSAT administration in September are up nearly 12 percent thus far, according to Law School Admission Council spokeswoman Wendy Margolis.

Legal educators have speculated that Trump was likely among the factors prompting more people to consider law school. But the Blueprint survey is the clearest indication yet that would-be applicants are paying attention to the role lawyers have played in the political discourse be it representing those caught up in Trump s Muslim travel ban, suing on behalf of transgendered military personnel, or attempting to use the courts to block regulatory rollbacks.

The sheer number of people citing Trump as a motivation for pursing law took Blueprint instructors by surprise, said co-founder Jodi Teti.

Based on anecdotal evidence, we expected to see some amount of students motivated by the political climate to go to law school, she said. However, we were unprepared for the numbers. That 24 percent, or nearly a quarter of those polled would list [Trump and the current political climate] for their reason to want to become a lawyer was completely unexpected and astonishing.

Among the survey respondents, 57 percent said Trump s presidency was either moderately influential or very influential in their decision to apply to law school. More than 16 percent rated a 10 on that scale the highest degree possible. On the other end of the spectrum, nearly 35 percent rated at a 1, meaning they were not all influenced by Trump.

Similarly, 57 percent of respondents said recent events such as the protests in Charlottesville have either moderately or strongly influenced the type of law they want to practice. The survey skewed female, with women comprising 69 percent of respondents.

Blueprint has previously surveyed LSAT takers on their reasons for applying to law school, but had never before included questions specific to political events because students weren t talking about it, Teti said. Thus, it s unclear how the new numbers would compare to responses during the Obama Administration.

The overarching concerns for the past several years have dealt with the law school transparency movement, the decreasing number of law jobs, and increasing debt load of law school, etc., Teti said. It wasn t until this year that we started hearing from our students that they were applying as a reaction to what was happening on the national political scene.

Contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@alm.com. On Twitter: @KarenSloanNLJ