A majority of prospective law students want to go to a law school that has a similar political bend as their own. This is according to a new survey by global educational services provider Kaplan, in which 58 percent of respondents said it is important to attend a law school where their fellow students generally hold the same political/social views as they do — 36 percent said that isn’t important, 6 percent said they aren’t sure. This number is a jump from the last time Kaplan conducted this survey (in 2020), when only 46 percent said politics played a factor in their choice of law school.
Those who were in favor of selecting a law school regardless of ideology justified that decision with some variation of this quote from a respondent, “I’d rather attend a law school with a range of political ideologies. I think it’s important to discuss differing beliefs and learn to respect everyone’s opinions.” While there was more variety in the reasons in favor of considering politics as part of your law school decision:
- “I want to feel free to express my opinions without the fear of a backlash.”
- “Even though it is important to dissent with respect and grow with people with opposing views, I consider that in this day and age it’s very difficult to survive in hostile environments.”
- “Before the end of affirmative action, this was not as heavy of a concern. Now, I fear for a lack of community and support should I attend a school that does not value diversity and inclusion highly.”
While it’s certainly noteworthy that politics is playing an increased role in law school decisions, it isn’t the only factor. Amit Schlesinger, executive director of government and legal programs at Kaplan, puts this new survey into perspective:
“Political polarization in the United States remains a significant challenge and the law school experience is certainly not immune to it, so it’s no surprise that most pre-law students say it’s important for them to get their legal education surrounded by others who think and vote the way they do. This preference may understandably arise from the desire to foster a supportive academic environment among people who share your values. But does it come at a cost? When your academic experience evolves into an echo chamber instead of a marketplace of diverse ideas, it could be to the detriment of personal growth. We think that while most aspiring lawyers will consider the political culture of a law school, they will ultimately couple that with the traditional factors like education quality, location, cost, and ranking. We believe that all of this will ultimately lead them to choose the law school that will help them achieve their long-term goals.”
And that makes a ton of sense, selecting a law school is a major educational — and financial — decision that will reverberate throughout your legal career. All of which means a lot of factors go into selecting the right law school for you.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.