In the wake of a significant decline in the number of applicants to law school in the United States, AALS conducted a national study to learn more about undergraduate views on law school.

Before the JD began as a survey guided by three questions:

  1. What factors contribute most to the intention to pursue (or not pursue) a graduate or professional degree in general;
  2. What factors contribute to, and with what rank and/or weight, the intention/decision to pursue (or not pursue) a JD; and
  3. What are the sources of information for making these decisions?

The survey, fielded by Gallup in 2017, yielded 22,189 undergraduate responses that shed light on the factors contributing to undergraduates’ intention to pursue a JD or other advanced degree. An additional 2,727 responses from first-year law students examine their final decision to enroll.

The capstone report, Before the JD: Undergraduate Views on Law School, unveils critical new findings about undergraduate opinions of law school. The first-known report of its kind in more than 50 years, the report has implications for law schools as they try to ensure that their classrooms and campuses are places of vibrant intellectual exchange.

The survey was carried out by Gallup, Inc and 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 Admission Council, and more than 18 leading law firms and corporate legal departments.

Download the Report View Report Highlights Press Release

AALS researchers provide additional analysis of Before the JD findings in the  winter 2018-2019 issue of The Bar Examiner, a quarterly magazine from the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

For more information about the project, contact AALS Research.

Undergraduate Views on Law School

Before the JD: Undergraduate Views on Law School is the first of two AALS reports based on the BJD study. This report focuses specifically on law school enrollment and the JD—what undergraduates think about it and what factors into their consideration, and what drives the decisions made by first-year law students regarding their enrollment.

Highlights from the report, including findings about when and why students consider a JD and how they learn about law school, are available for free download.