The negative attention heaped on law schools of late seems to have made an impression on would-be law students.

In a survey by law school admissions consulting firm Veritas Prep, 68 percent of the prospective lawyers queried said they would still apply to law school even if they understood that a significant number of graduates would be unable to find jobs in their desired field. That figure had fallen from 81 percent one year ago.

The National Association for Law Placement reported that the class of 2010 had the lowest employment rate since 1996. Only 68 percent of graduates had landed jobs requiring a J.D. nine months after graduation.

The survey appeared to confirm that attitudes were changing toward a legal education. In 2011, the number of law school applicants dropped by 10 percent, according to the Law School Admission Council.

The ability to pay back student loan debt was a growing concern, according to the Veritas Prep survey. Close to three quarters of the respondents — 73 percent — said finding a job that would allow them to pay back their student loans was their top concern. By contrast, finding an appealing long-term career was the top concern expressed last year.

Fewer of the respondents expected to graduate with more than $100,000 in law school debt than last year, at 33 percent. But a larger percentage of respondents — 49% — expected to take out loans to finance their education. Last year, 38% said they anticipated taking out loans.

The percentage worried about with landing a job following graduation rose slightly, from 63 percent last year to 67 percent this year. Twenty-three percent, the largest cohort, hoped to become public-interest attorneys, and 22 percent aspired to careers in large law firms. Salary expectations were slightly lower this year.

More students were considering affordability when selecting a law school, the poll found. However, location and prestige remained the top two considerations.

Contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@alm.com.