Law Student Idealism and Job Choice: Some New Data on an Old Question
30 Law & Society Review 851 (1996)
15 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2014
Date Written: 1996
Numerous commentaries and empirical studies have suggested that while a substantial proportion of incoming law students are interested in careers in "public interest law," by the time they graduate only a small minority take jobs in that sector. However, none of these studies have been based on a panel study having data on both job preference before students begin their studies and information about the actual first job taken. This Research Note fills that gap by updating an earlier study of the University of Wisconsin Law School class of 1976. We find that while over half the respondents expressed some interest in public interest law before beginning Law study, only 13% actually took a job in legal aid, as a public defender, or in a nonprofit organization. Analysis of respondents who initially expressed an interest in nontraditional jobs shows that political orientation and participation in a social action law program during law school are the strongest predictors of who in fact took a nontraditional job.
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