Trump Bump may be the reason for more LSAT takers

  • An immigration lawyer looks on during a demonstration at Tom Bradley International Airport in Los Angeles. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

By Jodi Teti

Will there be more law students because of Trump?

It seems the answer is yes.

Initially the “Trump Bump” (more students going to law school as a reaction to the Trump presidency) was speculative. When the newly-minted president issued the initial travel bans beginning in January of 2017, it was the federal court system that stopped the orders, and images of immigration lawyers working for free flooded the media.

The resultant lionization of the judicial branch had legal pundits wondering if more people would go to law school. Speculation intensified when the Law School Admission Council, the entity that oversees the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), reported that nearly 28,000 students took the June 2017 exam. The number constituted a 20% increase over the previous year’s administration and comprised the single largest percentage increase of test takers in the last eight years. 

While speculation ran amok, no one was able to quantify whether the Trump Bump was actually happening. Part of this is because law schools won’t see the majority of applications based on events of 2017 until the 2018/2019 submission cycle. Procedural difficulties exacerbated the question: how do you get enough prospective law students into a room to ask them their reasons for attending law school?

Blueprint LSAT Preparation, a boutique LSAT prep company, was in a unique position to answer this question. Blueprint surveyed thousands of June and September 2017 LSAT students participating in its courses to uncover their motivations to attend law school.

The responses were astonishing.

 - More than 52% rated recent political events as “moderately influential” to “very influential” in deciding what type of law they’d like to pursue.

 - More than 52% listed the Trump presidency as “moderately influential” to “very influential” in their decision to apply to law school

 - Respondents listed “As a response to the current political climate/Trump administration” as third overall out of all possible responses when ranking the order of importance the factors underpinning their desire to become lawyers. “Prestigious career” and “high salary” were first and second, respectively.

 - More than 24% ranked “As a response to the current political climate/Trump administration” first of six possible answers. Only “Prestigious career” was ranked first by more people.

This last statistic is jaw-dropping. Prestige provides a forcible reason for many people when choosing any career, not just the law. Aside from prestige, the presidency constituted the single highest ranked factor in respondents’ decisions to apply to law school. If the impact of this statistic doesn’t hit you at first, ask yourself if such a phenomenon would have occurred under the Bush or Obama terms of office.

Blueprint LSAT Prep data reveals law students are going to law school because of Trump.

Between Trump’s travel bans, the recent spate of white nationalist marches, the furor over Confederate monuments, and the recent pardon of Joe Arpaio, it seems clear that the country is in a tumult. Many look to the legal sphere as a force to help impose order on the chaos. Whether or not the Trump Bump is sustained, it’s nice to see the profession being viewed through its most positive light: as a force to uphold rights and as a balance in our tripartite system of government.

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This article was submited by Jodi Teti, co-founder of Blueprint LSAT Preparation and author of The Blueprint for LSAT Reading Comprehension.

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