Diversity of law draws SB students with desire to serve, create change

Tarush Mohanti/Daily Nexus

Tarush Mohanti/Daily Nexus

Kaplan Test Prep’s recently released 2015 Survey of Law School Admissions Officers reveals 88 percent of law school admissions officers predict their schools will see an increase in the number of applicants in 2015.

Last year, 267 UC Santa Barbara students applied to law schools in the United States out of a total 53,548 applicants nationwide. Kaplan reports these numbers make UCSB a large source of applicants in comparison to other universities across the country.

Kaplan Test Prep executive director of pre-law programs Jeff Thomas attributes this expected spike in applicants to the shift in law school curriculum from philosophical discussion to more practical instruction.

“Law schools have done a good job in changing their curriculum that would make them marketable after graduation,” Thomas said. “The implications from a school perspective are now law schools are going to have more qualified applicants.”

According to Thomas, as more undergraduate students apply to law school, the admission criteria is becoming more difficult to ensure quality of education.
“We expect law schools to be as stringent [as previous years] if not more so,” Thomas said.

According to UCSB Career Services counselor Lily Maestas, the undergraduate pre-law advising she and other counselors provide prepares students with the necessary tools to search for jobs and become marketable upon graduating law school.

“Just having a degree is not going to be the most important thing, it’s knowing how you want to use that degree and how you’re going to market yourself,” Maestas said. “I think finding a job is tough for anybody that doesn’t know how to look for work … if you don’t know the steps of job searching, you’re going to have a difficult time.”

Maestas said potential law students she works with are often motivated by a desire to serve others through the profession.

“I think a lot of [students] have altruistic intents,” Maestas said. “I mean, they want to do good, they want to help people. They want to do public interest law — that seems to be a theme at UCSB.”

President of co-ed pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta and third-year political science major Suman Kaur said students are interested in law school because of the stability it provides during a time of economic uncertainty in the United States.

“I think people are becoming more aware of the urgency of having to find a job in this day and age,” Kaur said. “It’s a great profession to be in and there’s so many things you can do with a law degree besides practicing the law.”

According to Kaur, the competitiveness of law school is partially due to a range of applicants from varying educational backgrounds.

“Not everybody wants to go to med school or do engineering or something like that and law school is just so diverse,” Kaur said. “You can be any major to apply to law school so I think it is attracting a lot of people which is great, but it does get a lot more competitive for whoever wants to go.

Fourth-year English major Sosi Maraslian said students may pursue law to create an impact in politics or create social change.

“A lot of people I know actually study political science so they might also be interested in pursuing a career in politics or just reform to change what they find is wrong with our society — or just to make a difference,” Maraslian said.

A version of this story appeared on p. 3 of the Thursday, Oct. 1 print edition of the Daily Nexus.