Fewer Prelaw Students Interested in Political Careers; Is Money the Reason?

The number of prelaw students interested in a political career has dropped by 16 percentage points in a three-year period. The finding has led to speculation: Is money leading to changing aspirations?

The survey of 758 prelaw students by Kaplan Test Prep found that 38 percent said they would consider running for political office, down from 54 percent in 2009. “The shine off the Capitol dome may be losing its luster for prelaw students,” a Kaplan press release says.

The findings come at the same time of a decline in lawyers serving in Congress. In the early 1970s, 51 percent of Senate members were lawyers, compared to 37 percent today. In the 1960s, 43 percent of U.S. House members were lawyers, compared to 24 percent today.

The LSAT Blog: Ace the LSAT and the U.S. News & World Report Education blog note the report and consider the reasons for declining political interest. U.S. News interviewed students who said they don’t like the character assassination associated with politics or congressional gridlock. A political official offered another idea: Students with heavy debt can’t afford to go into public service.

The LSAT Blog asked its prelaw readers for their explanations, and noted two broad categories. Some said politics is no longer respectable. And some talked about the money. It’s harder to build wealth in the law now, one reader said. And “you need serious amounts of money to enter politics,” the blog observes.

Typo corrected at 8:13 a.m.

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