Where do students get advice?

LSSSE’s optional Student Services module asks students about whether and how often they access academic and career services. Students draw from various sources to get advice about law school, legal education, and their future careers. Here, we look at the most commonly selected meaningful sources of advice for students and examine how patterns of advice-seeking change as students progress through law school.

 

Advice about Academic Plans

Faculty or staff not formally assigned as an academic advisor are the most common meaningful source of advice about academic planning. Over 40% of LSSSE respondents rely on these personal relationships that they develop with the law school professionals around them. Formal academic advisors –those assigned and those available to any students – are the second and third most commonly used sources of advice and were selected by 26% and 23% of students, respectively. About 22% of students consider websites, catalogs, or other published sources to be meaningful sources of advice about academic plans, and roughly one in five consulted family members. Only 14% of respondents did not seek academic advice from anyone during the current school year.

Students appear to rely less on assigned academic advisors as they progress through law school. Roughly one-third of 1L students say their assigned academic advisor was a meaningful source of advice, but only 15% of 3L students feel the same way. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 3L students were slightly less likely to seek academic advice than 1L and 2L students.

Advice about Career Plans

The ranking of meaningful sources of advice about career planning is remarkably similar to the ranking for advice about academic planning. Students highly value their relationships with law school faculty and staff when it comes to seeking career advice, ranking faculty or staff not formally assigned as a career advisor highest (38%), followed by career advisors available to any student (35%) and then assigned career advisors (27%). Interestingly, students were equally likely to select family members and assigned career advisors as meaningful sources of career advice. Twelve percent of respondents did not seek any career advice during the current school year.

Students rely less on assigned career advisors as they progress through law school, which is similar to the pattern we saw for academic advising. However, the gradual decrease in reliance on formal career advising is somewhat mirrored by a gradual increase in reliance on advice from faculty or staff not formally assigned as career advisors. It would appear that as students refine their interests and form relationships with particular faculty or staff members, they start to rely more on personal relationships for career advising and less on relationships facilitated by the structure of law school.


Annual Results 2018: Relationships Matter – Student Relationships

Decades of research on student engagement and student learning demonstrate the importance of peer interactions. Engaging with classmates in meaningful ways contributes to a deeper sense of belonging and enhances understanding of classwork, leading to better academic and professional outcomes (Hurtado & Carter, 1997; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005; NSSE, 2013).

Although law school is an inherently stressful and anxiety-producing endeavor, the vast majority of students (76%) report that their peers are friendly, supportive, and contribute to a sense of belonging. There are noticeable variations by race/ethnicity. White students are most likely to report positive relationships with peers (79%), as compared to Black (69%), Asian American (71%), and Latinx (73%) students.

 

The Student Stress Module examines law student stress and anxiety—their sources, impact, and perceptions of support offered by law schools to manage stress and anxiety. One question asks directly about various sources of stress and anxiety that students may face in school. High percentages of students report that academic performance (77%) and academic workload (76%) produce stress or anxiety, but competition amongst peers does not create or magnify these feelings for most students. Students report that competition amongst peers is most significant during the first year of law school but sharply declines each year. Forty-two percent of 1L students report that peer competition is a source of stress or anxiety. By the third year of law school that number drops to 24%.


Annual Results 2018: Relationships Matter – Advising

A majority of students are pleased with the quality of advising and their relationships with administrators:

  • 69% are satisfied with academic advising and planning.
  • 66% are satisfied with career counseling.
  • 64% are satisfied with job search help.
  • 70% are satisfied with financial aid advising.
  • 68% report that administrative staff are helpful, friendly, and considerate.

The quality of relationships with advisors and administrators is both positive and relatively consistent across race, gender, and year in school. Seventy percent of 1L students (and 67% of 2Ls and 3Ls) report that administrative staff are helpful, considerate, and flexible. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of students consider at least one administrator or staff member as someone they could approach for advice or guidance on managing the law school experience. Higher percentages of Black students (87%) rely on these relationships than students from other racial backgrounds (79% for Asian American, white, and Latinx students).

 

 

Interactions with academic support personnel drive whether a student would choose to attend the same law school again as well as overall satisfaction with their law school experience. Though students report positive relationships with administrative staff, satisfaction with advising services is less consistent and more varied across race/ethnicity, year in school, and gender. Sixty-nine percent of all respondents report that their law school provides the support they need to succeed academically, with higher perceptions of support among 1L students. Similarly, academic advising, career counseling, and job search help are key support services that students appreciate greatly when they begin law school, though they are more dissatisfied as graduation nears.

 

 


Annual Results 2018: Relationships Matter - Student-Faculty Interaction

Faculty, administrators, and classmates are key ingredients to law student success. These relationships serve as important ties to the law school and impact student satisfaction, sense of belonging, and academic and professional development. This year’s annual report explores relationships and examines the nuances of the impact they have on law students.

The vast majority of students (76%) report positive relationships with faculty, including interactions both in and out of the classroom. Meaningful interactions vary across student demographics, with notable race/ethnic differences. On multiple dimensions Black and Latinx students report more engagement and interaction with faculty than white and Asian American students. For instance, while a majority of all law students (57%) discuss assignments with faculty “often” or “very often,” 65% of Black students do so, the highest of any racial or ethnic group, followed by 58% of Latinx students, 56% of white students and 53% of Asian American students.

 

The pattern of Black and Latinx students enjoying higher rates of engagement with faculty persists across multiple dimensions. For example, Black students (47%) are more likely to discuss career or job search with faculty than Latinx (41%), white (40%), or Asian American (38%) students. Black and Latinx students are also more likely to talk with faculty outside of class. The vast majority of students find faculty available, helpful, and sympathetic. Interestingly, this sentiment does not directly track interaction with faculty, as a higher percentage of white students report favorable relationships with faculty than Black and Latinx students.