Law Schools

Female Law Students More Likely than Males to Cite Fear Factor as Motivator

  • Print

A new survey finds that the average law student studies 27 hours a week and views his or her profs as only moderately helpful and sympathetic.

But averages don’t tell the whole story. There are male and female differences in the statistics that project manager Lindsay Watkins finds “interesting and kind of disturbing,” the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Nearly 25,000 students at 77 law schools in the United States and Canada participated in the 2010 Law School Survey of Student Engagement. The study (PDF) found that female law students were more likely than males to say they work hard because they feared failure or embarrassment. The females were less likely than males to ask questions in class or to discuss assignments with professors.

“We hope this is an area that folks will find intriguing and want to follow up on,” Watkins told the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The survey also picked up some dissatisfaction among third-year students, 57 percent of whom said they weren’t satisfied with job search help, Insider Higher Ed reports. Forty percent of the 3Ls said they spent some time each week working for pay in a legal setting.

A subsection of the survey dealing with professional development analyzed responses from students at 22 schools, and found that law schools could do more to help students step into their roles as professionals. Only 57 percent of the 3Ls said they felt prepared to understand the needs of clients and to deal with ethical dilemmas in law practice, and only 45 percent felt prepared for the day-to-day stresses of law practice. Those students who interacted frequently with faculty, however, felt better prepared.

“These data reveal that law schools are reaching only about half of their students in preparing them to make the transition from students to lawyers,” the report says.

Other findings from the survey, conducted by Indiana University at Bloomington:

• First-year students cited a rewarding and challenging career as the most influential factor in their decision to attend law school. Younger students were more likely to say they went to law school because they didn’t know what else to do, while older students were more likely to say they wanted to contribute to the public good.

• First-year students who cited a desire to contribute to the public good as very influential were also more likely to spend more time studying, to ask more questions, and to interact more frequently with faculty members. Those who went to law school because they were unsure of their next steps in life, on the other hand, were significantly less likely to spend time studying and to ask questions in class.

Prior coverage: “Almost 1/3 of Law Students Expect to Graduate with $120K Debt”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.