The World Needs More Cowboy Lawyers!
Klint W. Alexander, Ph.D. J.D., University of Wyoming College of Law Laramie, Wyoming
During the past year, law schools have experienced a significant increase in applications as political polarization in Washington, improvement in the U.S. market for law jobs, and a more flexible law school admissions process inspire young adults to pursue a legal career. According to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), the number of law school applications submitted in the 2017-18 admissions cycle was 11 percent higher than last year. At the University of Wyoming College of Law, law school applications are up 13 percent.
Political events in Washington have fueled interest in legal education as young Americans seek to understand and prepare themselves for changes to laws and regulations affecting the economy, the environment, civil rights, and our national security. The Russia investigation, the imposition of massive new tariffs on trade, the building of a "wall" between the U.S. and Mexico, and the recent retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court have elevated the importance of the "rule of law" in the minds of many Americans and sparked renewed interest in the Constitution, democratic institutions, and processes that govern our way of life and our relations with other nations. College graduates today are more concerned about the effect specific policies will have on their future than in past years, and they see that lawyers and our judicial system can make a difference in solving problems and bringing about positive change.
In addition to politics, an improving economy is fostering optimism about law school and the legal job market among college graduates. Generally, the number of law school applications tends to mirror the economy's health and the hiring market for lawyers. When the economy is doing well and firms are hiring, law school applications increase. When the economy and demand for young lawyers dip, law school applications dip. Currently, the economy is fairly diversified and robust with unemployment hovering around 4% and firms...