Looking at law students' experiences

January 24, 2012
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Law school students aren’t interacting much with international students, something that may hurt them as they prepare for a more internationally diverse environment.

Legal educators have a pretty valuable resource when it comes to finding how law students feel about their learning experience – the Law School Survey of Student Engagement, produced in Bloomington, Ind.

The Law School Survey of Student Engagement recently released its 2011 survey results of more than 33,000 law students at participating schools and focused this year’s report on the paths one can take in legal education. The report looks specifically at how studying part time changes the student experience; are students well-served by transferring to a new law school; and how is the experience of juris doctor students transformed by having international graduate law students in their schools?

Regarding part-time students, the report found that those students appear to be at least as satisfied with the law school experience as their full-time counterparts. Part-time students spent less time on co-curricular activities, but spent the same amount of time studying and preparing for class as full-time students.

“Of particular note, part-time students were less likely to participate in pro bono or clinical activities as part of a course. While this may be expected, it raises important questions about substantive differences in learning opportunities for part-time and full-time students, especially given the highly beneficial nature of clinics and collaborative work for students,” the report says.

Just like with part-time students, the study found that transfer students are less likely than others to participate in law journal, moot court and law school organizations, as well as pro bono activities. The study also found that transfer students have significantly lower undergraduate grade point averages and LSAT scores than other students at the same schools, but they work hard to prove themselves once they are in their new law school. In 2011, just 3 percent of 2L and 3L students in the LSSSE sample of U.S. law schools were transfer students.

Finally, the report takes a look at globalization and the law school experience. The study reports that overall, law students had limited interaction with international graduate law students, which the LSSSE believes is a lost opportunity for U.S. students to prepare themselves for the global economy.

You can view the survey results on the group’s website. The LSSSE is part of Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research, which is a part of the School of Education that studies the student experience.
 

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