Okay, that's amazing given the legal job market, but I suppose not downright shocking, given that the folks surveyed were from a group who had taken the LSAT this year, so they must have some reason for going to law school. But get this little tidbit:
"[O]nly 16 percent say they are “very confident” that the majority of their fellow aspiring lawyers will [find a job in the legal field].
* * * *
“Pre-law students’ confidence in their own job prospects are likely an indication not just of self-assurance, but of their optimism in an economic turnaround,” said Jeff Thomas, director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. “What’s interesting is the drop-off in confidence in their peers, which perhaps may just be an indication of the general competitive atmosphere that exists between pre-law students.“To summarize: The economy is bad, the legal job market is bad, lots of folks are saying that this is a bad time to go to law school, but the only thing that has changed in the attitude of students taking the LSAT is that most of them think other people will have a tough time getting a job.
The quote from Mr. Thomas is interesting. He attributes this bizarre double standard to self-assurance, "optimism of an economic turnaround," and a competitive pre-law atmosphere. I'd say he's one-third right. Self-assurance-- or perhaps more to the point, foolish pride-- is at work. Students who don't know what law school is like have no idea whether they will do well in law school, and they certainly have no clue about others.
The fact is that every student applying to law school is shocked that he or she is not in the 98th percentile of the LSAT (it must be that I'm not a good tester) and cannot get into Yale or Harvard. First-year law students are shocked when they don't get all A's (the prof is unfair) and when they get their first legal writing paper back (prof don't know English) and when their first-year grades come back (I've never gotten a "C"!). Law school is a completely different world, and students don't know how to gauge their own prospects. This is primarily due to ignorance of the nature of legal study.
In order to be a bit more knowledgeable about the law school experience, I suggest doing some homework, coupled with introspection, before rushing headlong into law school:
1. Take at least three or four practice LSATs and evaluate what they tell you about aptitude and likelihood of first year law school success. Despite what some say, the LSAT is still an excellent indicator, for most students, of first-year success. If you are not as cut out for legal study as you think you are, don't blame the test. Plenty of very smart people do not have the warped aptitudes for law school. This is no shame. Study something you were created to study. You'll be happier.
2. Count the cost financially. Find schools that will not only take you, but will also give you some scholarship money based on your LSAT and GPA.
3. Read two or three books about law school AND about what lawyers actually do.
I know that God calls men and women to law school, even in this job market and economic environment. I urge students seeking his guidance to, first, do their homework to discern their own aptitudes and skills in relation to legal study. Second, I pray that they not think more highly of themselves than they ought as they consider their options. Finally, I hope that they do not wager a large debt load on their confident predictions of their own legal prowess.
Wisdom has built her house. . . .
To him who lacks sense she says,
"Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight." Prov. 9:1, 4-5