Before the JD

An AALS-led research project

Before the JD is a nationwide study intended to understand the factors contributing to the intention/decision to pursue a Juris Doctor (JD) or not. The project is being guided by three questions: (1) What factors contribute most to the intention/decision to pursue an advanced degree (e.g., master’s, JD, MD, PhD, etc.) or not?; (2) What factors contribute to, and with what rank and/or weight, the intention/decision to pursue a JD or not?; and (3) What are the sources of information, by rank and/or weight, for making these decisions?

The centerpiece of the study is a national survey of undergraduate students who are enrolled in U.S.-based four-year colleges and universities, as well as first-year law students. The survey will be fielded in 2017, followed by a small number of focus groups. Final results will be made available in 2018.

The survey, which has been made possible with support from the AccessLex Institute, the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education, the American Bar Foundation, the National Association for Law Placement, the Law School Admissions Council, and more than 12 leading law firms and corporate legal departments, is being carried out by Gallup, Inc.

The project is being guided by a team of advisors, including: Tiffane Cochran, Director of Research, at the AccessLex Institute; Andrew Cornblatt, Dean of Admissions at the Georgetown Law Center, and Associate Vice President of Georgetown University; Ronit Dinovitzer, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto; Bryant Garth, Chancellor’s Professor of Law at University of California, Irvine; Deborah Hensler, Judge John W. Ford Professor of Dispute Resolution, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, and Director of Law and Policy Lab at the Stanford Law School, Ajay Mehrotra, Director of the American Bar Foundation; and Jerome M. Organ, Professor of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

For more information about the project, contact Dr. Jeff Allum at


Q and A with Before the JD Director Jeff Allum