Serious students in short supply? Not at NC's law schools

December 27, 2013 

Time was, some parents would go to their college graduate offspring who were “finding themselves” by living in communes and reckoning they’d be rock musicians and utter in their best parental tones, “OK, you’ve enjoyed yourself on our dime. Now you’re going to law school.”

And then there were the students who weren’t quite ready to join the working world and so signed on for three years of a paper chase.

Now law school is less of an option. Law schools in the Triangle have seen a slight dip in overall applications. Nationally, the number of first-year law students is at its lowest point in nearly 40 years.

Bill Hoye of the Duke University law school says his university is seeing students these days who are more “self-directed,” or “motivated.” Law schools, he believes are not seeing the “nonchalant” students who come in fully confident that they’ll finish up law school and walk into a nice-paying job in their choice of firms.

Duke has a high employment rate for graduates, but the job market is tougher than it used to be and those students who are serious about the practice of law, and not those who were just picking up another degree, are the ones who will succeed.

This is not to say a law degree can’t be valuable to students who decide on business careers or even choose to become writers or artists. Law school teaches people to think analytically, to learn to advocate for their position and to organize themselves in every endeavor.

The establishment of new law schools in North Carolina over the past years (at Elon University and at The Charlotte School of Law) was questioned by some lawyers in terms of the demand for such schools. But the demand clearly is there, and the high quality of student has been maintained.

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