No, it's not your imagination. Aspiring lawyers tend to be more self-confident, enjoy more family wealth and are more likely to have a lawyer parent than the average college student, according to research released by the Law School Admission Council.
The study, Behind the Data: Comparing Law School Applicants To All College Freshman, weighed the socioeconomic, demographic and other characteristics of law school applicants.
"This report illuminates how students' backgrounds, experiences, and goals may affect their decision to apply to law school and their ultimate success in applying and being admitted to law school," LSAC researchers Ann Gallagher and Phil Handwerk wrote.
The researchers found that high school grades, performance on standardized tests and socioeconomic status factor into whether college freshmen report an interest in going to law school.
They drew upon data from The Freshman Survey, which the University of California at Los Angeles' Cooperative Institutional Research Program since 1999 has administered to college freshman at 1,500 institutions.
Freshmen who eventually applied
The researchers scrutinized the responses by nearly 40,000 freshmen who went on to apply to law school between 2006 and 2009. That offered a look at how the freshmen who applied compared with their classmates who did not pursue law school.
Among freshmen who went on to apply to law school, 50 percent reported that their families would pay $10,000 or more toward their undergraduate expenses, compared to 31 percent for all college freshman.
The aspiring lawyers also had more highly educated parents: 41 percent said their father held a graduate degree, and 28 percent said their mother held one. That compared to 23 percent and 18 percent, respectively, for all college freshman.
The aspiring lawyers rated themselves more highly than the typical college student regarding academic ability, public speaking, drive to achieve and tendency to socialize with students outside their own race.
Of the eventual law school applicants, 87 percent reported that they had "above average" academic abilities, compared with 69 percent of all college freshman.