Let the record show that 58 percent of pre-law students say that it’s important for them to attend a law school where their fellow students generally hold the same political/social views as they do, according to a new survey by global educational services provider Kaplan; 36 percent say it’s not important; and the remaining 6 percent aren’t sure*. This marks a significant increase from the last time Kaplan released a survey on this issue in early 2020, when only 46 percent said it was important. The release of the survey results comes at a time when tension among students and administrators on law school campuses is heightened because of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Respondents who said it’s important for them to attend law school with like-minded individuals shared the following reasons:

  • “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.”

Among students who said it was unimportant, one said, “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.” This was a common theme among respondents.

The survey also found that 53 percent said the current political climate impacted their decision to apply to law school, significantly up from 41 percent in a Kaplan survey released in early 2020. But will their focus on politics inspire them to run for office? Only 26 percent said they would consider becoming candidates themselves, a steep decline from the 53 percent who said yes in a Kaplan survey released in 2017.

“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,” said Amit Schlesinger, executive director of government and legal programs, Kaplan. “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.”

Schlesinger notes that the survey was conducted just before the October 7 attacks by Hamas and subsequent Israeli response, and speculates that if the survey had been conducted post-October 7 that the percentage of pre-law students who say it’s important for them to attend a law school where their fellow students generally hold the same political/social views as they do might actually be significantly higher than 58 percent. “World changing events can sometimes have a big impact on what respondents say at any given moment in time,” he said.

To speak with a law school admissions expert at Kaplan, please contact russell.schaffer@kaplan.com.

*The online survey was conducted in September 2023 of 390 aspiring lawyers across the country who are members of Phi Alpha Delta, the largest professional law fraternity in the United States.

About Kaplan

Kaplan, Inc. is a global educational services company that helps individuals and institutions advance their goals in an ever-changing world. Our broad portfolio of solutions help students and professionals further their education and careers, universities and educational institutions attract and support students, and businesses maximize employee recruitment, retainment, and development. Stanley Kaplan founded our company in 1938 with a mission to expand educational opportunities for students of all backgrounds. Today, our thousands of employees working in 26 countries continue Stanley’s mission as they serve about 1.2 million students and professionals, 13,000 corporate clients, and 4,000 schools, school districts, colleges, and universities worldwide. Kaplan is a subsidiary of the Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC). Learn more at kaplan.com.

Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 917.822.8190 Twitter: @KaplanEdNews

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