Grantee Research

The Value of Legal Education as a Continuum of Personal & Collective Gains: Insight from Administrators & Latinx Students Across Differently-Ranked Law Schools

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date



value of a law degree, race and ethnicity, Latino students, law school rankings


In this paper, we focus on Latinx law students’ valuation of their legal education across differently-ranked institutions to understand how law students navigate the uneasy waters of a deeply hierarchical field that also verbalizes a commitment to ethnoracial equity. Drawing from 96 interviews with law students as administrators from eight different institutions, we find that administrators and students within higher-ranked institutions express distinct patterns of valuation than their counterparts at lower ranked institutions. For those at lower-ranked institutions, their valuation of their education is contingent on their prospective goals to serve their local communities. In contrast, students at higher-ranked institutions rely on rankings to articulate prospects of a prestigious future. Across all tiers, however, we show the significant toll that narrowly normative accounts of value propositions have for both students and administrators.