Mar 13, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

The results of a recent Gallup poll offer new insights into how professional school graduates view the value of their education. How did law degrees stack up, and what does it mean? Here’s a closer look.

Low Perceived Value

Just 23 percent of law degree holders responded that they “strongly agree” when asked whether their education was worth the cost. This trailed behind doctoral, medical, MBA, MS and MA degrees with 64 percent, 58 percent, 42 percent, 49 percent, and 45 percent, respectively.

Law degrees also fell short of other degrees when it comes to how graduates perceived the degree to which graduate school prepared them for life outside of graduate school.

Drilling Down on the Data

All of these degrees are expensive. So to what can particularly low law school numbers be attributed? For starters, doctoral graduates are more likely to receive financial aid during their studies. In other words, while the cost in itself may be similar, the impact of that cost is ultimately mitigated by the availability of aid.

The weak job market for lawyers is also cited as a factor. The good news? This means that satisfaction with law degrees may improve in pace with the job market. At the same time, perception of value may also evolve as the field evolves. Contends Mainspring Legal CEO Michael Allen in a recent Above the Law op-ed, “The one trend that we see continue to stick is the importance of the personal brand over the law firm brand, and that means that every attorney should really focus on how they differentiate themselves from the pack, regardless of where they hang their shingle.”

A Call for Change

One last thing to keep in mind? While the poll results may seem grim, it’s also an invaluable call to -- and incentive for -- law schools and the law industry at large to focus on potential areas of improvement.

Says Gallup, “While higher education discussions often focus on ways to improve the undergraduate experience, thought leaders in higher education should also consider how to maximize the postgraduate experience. Though the context of undergraduate and postgraduate education may differ, supportive and applied learning experiences are critical to the success of both.”


Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

Add your comment

News

image
June 14, 2018

Law school is hard. Parenting is hard. Both at the same time? Even harder. Try being a single parent on top of all of that. Meet Briana Williams, the ...


image
June 5, 2018

For the first time since 2000, Connecticut's pass rate for the bar exam fell below 50 percent, to just 38 percent this year. Let's take a closer look.


image
May 29, 2018

Law students have until now been limited in terms of the availability of online coursework due to American Bar Association (ABA) restrictions. Now, th...


comments powered by Disqus