Analyzing Law School Choice

38 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2019 Last revised: 20 May 2020

See all articles by CJ Ryan

CJ Ryan

Indiana University Maurer School of Law; American Bar Foundation

Date Written: January 3, 2019


The contemporary crisis in law school enrollments presents a timely opportunity to evaluate a subject that has received little academic attention: student choice in legal education. In order to address the present lack of understanding about what motivates post-Recession law students to enroll in law school, this article examines several of the factors that bear on the choice to attend law school from the results of an original survey distributed to current law students at four law schools—a private elite law school, a public flagship law school, a public regional law school, and a private new law school—in the 2017–2018 academic year. This article analyzes the salience of location, information, opportunity cost, and cost sensitivity in the context of a law student’s decision to enroll in law school. The results from this survey indicate that legal education is a highly stratified market for consumers on the basis of their preferences. It is hoped that these results will shed greater light on and knowledge of the most understudied group in professional graduate education—law students.

Keywords: Legal Education, Law Schools, Choice, Admissions Decisions, Education Markets, Price Sensitivity, Financial Aid, Location

JEL Classification: D01, D03, D46, D81, I20, I21, I22, I23, I29, Z18

Suggested Citation

Ryan, Christopher, Analyzing Law School Choice (January 3, 2019). 2020 U. Ill. Rev. 583-620 (2020), AccessLex Institute Research Paper No. 19-01, Roger Williams Univ. Legal Studies Paper No. 186, Available at SSRN:

Christopher Ryan (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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