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This is the Main Reason Why People Pursue a Law Degree Today

The biggest reason why students are pursuing a law degree today? A desire to do good.

The Law School Admission Council’s Class of 2022 matriculant survey found that nearly 70% of respondents reported social justice, helping others or uplifting their community as the main drivers for them to attend law school. Just a decade ago, high-paying salaries, prestige, and furthering academic and career goals were the main drivers for law students, US News reports.

“Students and pre-applicants are primarily motivated by external factors, and what’s driving them to go to law school is advocating for social justice and helping others,” Liz Bodamer, director of research for the Law School Admission Council, says.


Similar to its students, law schools also have been advocating for social good over the years.

“Law schools see themselves as engines for social change and have for decades,” Kyle McEntee, LSAC’s senior director of prelaw engagement, says. “You see this in the way law schools advocate their services, the types of clinics they are investing in, the types of externships they are encouraging their students to partake in.”

At the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, for example, the school has run a critical race studies specialization focused on racial justice for nearly 20 years. Additionally, UCLA Law is home to El Centro Legal, a student-run volunteer program that matches more than 200 law students with clients across Los Angeles seeking help for issues such as immigration and juvenile justice.

Bayrex Martí, the assistant dean for student affairs at UCLA Law, says that while students have always wanted to make a difference, it’s how they want to do so that’s changed.

“It was broader before,” Martí says. “They wanted to make a difference, but not necessarily in specific areas. But now I feel like at least here, students come in saying they want to work in education policy or immigration policy or environmental justice. They come with this narrower lens and that feels like a difference from 10 years ago.”


The Class of 2022 is also the most racially and ethnically diverse law school class in history, according to LSAC.

It’s a big feat that experts say can be attributed to a number of impactful social movements that have spurred over the last few years—from George Floyd to RBG.

“I think our students in general, they come from neighborhoods and communities and families where they have seen the impact of the law on their lives, and the way some of these systems, whether it’s immigration or the family court system, have had really negative impacts on families and communities,” Nicole Smith Futrell, CUNY associate law professor and director of the Center for Diversity in the Legal Profession, says. “Students want the legal training to go back and share that information in the places they come from.”

Sources: US News, LSAC

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