Monday, June 25, 2012

Thinking Law School? Think Again

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent on-line article about the legal job market.  It should be required reading for anyone thinking of going to law school:
Members of the law-school class of 2011 had little better than a 50-50 shot of landing a job as a lawyer within nine months of receiving a degree, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of new data that provides the most detailed picture yet of the grim market for law jobs.
Under pressure from disillusioned graduates and some professors, the American Bar Association for the first time released a tally of the previous year's graduates who have secured full-time, permanent jobs as lawyers. Until recently, the ABA required law schools to report only general data about how their graduates fared, such as how many were employed full-time or part-time in any kind of job, whether or not it required a law degree.
The numbers suggest the job market for law grads is worse than previously thought. Nationwide, only 55% of the class of 2011 had full-time, long-term jobs that required a law degree nine months after graduation. The ABA defines "long-term" jobs as those that don't have a term of less than one year.
The numbers capture only 2011 graduates and measure their employment status within nine months of graduation. That time frame tends to favor top schools whose students often—in good times and bad—land jobs before graduation, according to several law-school deans.
To see the rest of the lengthy article, click here.

Proposed Building to House New Indiana Tech Law School
The ABA bases its ratings of law schools partly on surveys about the employment situation of new grads at nine months, which is part of the information discussed above.  Now here is what is not in the WSJ article.  That data received from law school...there is no audit procedure to confirm the validity of that information.  Law schools know they can lie - and have been - without fear of being caught.  A few years ago when I asked for the surveys upon which the IU School of Law at Indianapolis had based its outrageous salary figure and employment numbers, they denied my request for the documents (even in redcated form) but let it slip that they "estimate" salaries for graduates who don't return their surveys.

In the comments section, one of the posters criticized the comments confirming the article is right about bad legal job market.  He said he had just taken the law school admissions test and he knows that the "offers" he receives from law firms will be based on the grades he receives at what he admits will be a lower tier law school.  He is certain though that if he gets good grades and is a good lawyer that he'll do very well in the legal profession.

Offers?   OFFERS??  He thinks law firms are going to be lined up to make offers to him upon graduation? How naive.  He'll be lucky to get one offer and that will only come if he doggedly pursues any possible job openings.  Law firms don't even interview students at law schools like they used to where those offers were generally extended  Big law firms aren't offering partnership tracks for new associates.  Many law firms have gone to commission only, dropping paying associates salaries or an hourly for their work.  The poster has no idea what he is getting into. He is liable to graduate with six figure, non-dischargable debt and find that he can't get a job in the legal profession at all.  You think he'd listen to people who have actual experience in the legal job market as opposed to law schools who have an incentive to lie to prospective students.  But once again, people believe what they want to believe.


Cato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cato said...

There has never been a better time to drop the twin prerequisites for practicing law: a law school degree and passage of the bar.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Ah yes, I so agree with your closing statement, Paul. People will believe what they want to believe.

Carl Maxwell said...

being a lawyer is not an easy thing to be. Being in the law firm in houston for so many years, i can say that there are some instances that I am thinking of quitting as the job is really hard. For those who are aspiring to be a lawyer, you should be strong enough to face failures and problems.