Skip to comments.A Message to Aspiring Lawyers: Caveat Emptor (New jobs annually: 21,800. No. of graduates: 44,000)
Posted on 01/06/2013 7:42:41 AM PST by SeekAndFind
There is a crisis in law-school education, but don't expect the institutions to tell potential applicants about it. In short, there are far too many graduates for the number of jobs available, and the majority of those who get jobs are not being paid nearly enough to service their debt.
Nationally there are twice as many graduates as there are jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the economy will provide 21,880 new jobs for lawyers annually between 2010 and 2020; law schools since 2010, however, have produced more than 44,000 graduates each year. Yet schools continue to enroll more students than the market demands and to raise tuition faster than inflation. The result is exploding debt loads for current students and graduates whose employment prospects are appalling.
To be sure, the employment prospects for Americans across a broad swath of society have been grim in recent years. But the legal profession has clearly lost any reputation it might have once had as a safe, prosperous haven in troubled times.
I graduated in 2011 and am one of the "lucky" ones. Within six months of graduation I secured a job in my area of interest, international human rights. My class entered the worst American job market in 18 yearsonly 56.7% of law graduates found full-time jobs lasting at least a year and requiring passage of a bar exam.
For many new hires, even finding a job with a law firm might not be quite the cause for celebration it once was. According to the American Bar Association, the average amount borrowed by students attending private law schools has gone up 78% in the past decade, to $124,950 in 2011 from $70,147 in 2002. However, these loan figures don't reflect the true burden.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
From the article:
* The average interest rate on federal loans for graduate students is 8%, which starts to accrue while the student is still in school.
* The typical law graduate often holds debt in excess of $150,000 by the time repayment begins.
* Salaries have plummeted, with the mean private-practice compensation today, $78,653, falling 16% from where it was in 2009 ($93,454), and 8% from 2002 ($85,518)
* Law-school tuition has increased 434.8% at private schools since 1985
Author then gets personal. He says:
“In my case, although I found employment, my finances are precarious. With $169,000 in law-school debt and an annual salary of $55,000 (which is within the average range for a small firm), I cannot start paying off my debt in a responsible and timely manner, much less afford to have a wedding, start a family, buy a home, etc.”
Can’t lawyers just hang out their own shingle?
*unmentionable (that's racist)
RE: with certain discriminating qualifications
What if these “discriminating qualifications” are inherent?
Deregulation destroyed Airline Pilots
Obamacare destroyed (is going to destroy) doctors
and now the last one still standing lawyers are too plentiful.
Then again, I was raised in an practical era during which there were few financing avenues available to tempt those with no idea of what the world outside of academia held for them. Time to grow up is at hand for them now. For the writer of the article he learned to late. Hopefully those who read it will heed the advice within.
I saw the writting on the wall with regard to college costs years ago and encouraged my wife to become a college professor so that our children could someday get a free college education (one of the common benefits of being a professor) making college’s spiralling costs meaningless to us.
I estimate that one benefits will be worth a couple of million by the time our 4 children are college age. And the best part is... it’s basically tax free income
I can tell you this: part of the problem is the law firms themselves who have as their mission statements such drivel as: Make as much money as possible. Some of these blokes are making $1M a year and couldn’t care less that because of their threats to take clients with them when they leave if someone touches “one penny” of “their” money, new lawyers can’t be hired. The pyramid eats itself. yech, they make me want to puke. And they don’t do their own work, they have paralegals and secretaries who they treat poorly and shout at, pull phones out of walls, it’s wrong. They demand associates contribute to political campaigns, the whole thing is rotten.
RE: how can one have any demonstrated analytical skills when they cannot even determine they are borrowing so much money to attend school they can never pay it back or if they do, they will have no life for the foreseeable future?
I believe the problem is one of unrealistic expectations. There perhaps was a time not too long ago when jobs for lawyers (with good compensation to boot ) were widely available. That was the cause of the unrealistic expectations and the risky dive into taking on expensive college loans.
The good times were real in the past.... they are not anymore and won’t be back for at least 4 years.
BTW, this isn’t only a lesson for law school students, it is applicable for many other college students (Yes, even those studying to be doctors ).
But no one figured on the collapse of these industries. Once most of them were gone, the legal profession more or less has gone too. Some law firms have survived through numerous mergers and acquisitions. I worked for one firm that was bought and sold several times. Some firms carved out niches — those that focus on auto accidents, medical malpractice, etc. — but more than a few firms have failed, and the ones that survived don’t make the serious money they once did during the golden age of industry.
Of course, the hard times now translate into fewer jobs in the field. And it’s not only lawyers who can’t fins jobs. Support jobs in the field have dwindled. I would love to work part-time again, but part-time and even full-time secretarial positions here are practically non-existent. The last firm I worked for has figured out that because nearly every attorney is computer savvy, it doesn’t need as many secretaries as it once did. In the old days, a secretary would work for one or two attorneys at the most. Now, one secretary works for three, four, five or more people.
I’m sorry about the difficulties you are having. It stinks.
Student loans = Indentured Servants.
you can’t get hired for those puffed up salaried positions unless you pass a litmus test
“Cant lawyers just hang out their own shingle?”
Very risky. Like many other small businesses, most fail. And it’s much harder than working for a firm. As a sole practitioner, you have to do all the work and take all the risk. You don’t have others to spread it all around.
Oh Boy, what a loser. This "field" didn't exist when I was in law school. Sounds like a typical non-profit job funded by taypayer money...
Deregulation destroyed Airline Pilots
Bullchips. Deregulation created more pilot jobs, though their antiquated unions continue to prop wages higher than the market would otherwise dictate. To argue against deregulation is to argue against the free market.
“Cant lawyers just hang out their own shingle?”
Many do, but only after a bit of experience. One aspect that is never addressed in these types of articles is that few law schools make much effort to produce competent, practice ready attorneys. Indoctrinated in every self serving systemic shibboleth, most definitely; networked, a little bit; actually able to carry the simplest case from intake through trial? Hell no, and don’t even think about appeals.
What there is, and will probably always be, is a shortage of disciplined, effective litigators. These are people who actually relish the formal and ritual evisceration of their adversaries in court. It is high pressure, stressful, often joyless and often leads to a lot of substance abuse, frustration, anger and bitterness. Tests have indicated different hormonal proportions between office lawyers and their more aggressive (and generally unpleasant) trial counterparts.
Personally I think there will be a rising demand for bankruptcy attorneys and Constitutional liberty oriented criminal defense attorneys in this nascent totalitarian, socialist state, at least until they are rendered utterly ineffective via statist diktat and bipartisan collusion.
Anyway, in all of this there is a sort of economic Darwinism at work. An attorney who cannot find or generate work will win no cases either.
“Sounds like a typical non-profit job funded by taypayer money.”
They are, and they are often sinecures for the socially and politically connected children of socially and politically connected parents. Plums are never in great supply, and are seldom awarded for trifles such as sincerity or merit.
Vassalage, apple polishing and zealotry will open the doors to these ivory towers and castles in the air.
I agree, this is a lesson for all aspiring college applicants, not just lawyers albeit that was the center of the article.
For quite a few years, college was not so expensive to be unattainable for almost anyone who wanted to go and wished to work for it. As is usually the case, when the government got involved in the student loan business, circa 1965, that all changed and continued to change for the worse with every attempt to “reform” the system. Costs go up as money available for a product increases because the money increases demand unsustainably. Centers of higher learning became consumer product dispensors with their own marketing arms. Sadly, education suffered by dilution of excellence due to broader based admissions standards and stretching of available professorship talent. Lay over all this the government regulations which come with the taking of government funding and you get what we got now.
All IMHO of course.
I’m an attorney - in a private practice. Note that the article is talking about “jobs.” I don’t doubt that this is true. Fewer firms want to hire lawyers as employees. The trend is really technology-driven. There’s little reason nowadays to actually have lawyers in-house in a full-on employer/employee relationship, when technological advances make possible and profitable contracting with a plethora of specialized attorneys on a just-in-time contract basis. The big firms are all falling one by one. Coudert Brothers is gone, to name but one. Other Big Law firms are laying off and cutting partners. It’s a real bloodbath. But guys like me - sole practitioners on Main Street - hardly notice. In short, there are lots of opportunities out there. In fact, there are whole market segments that aren’t served at all. It’s just that you have to use technology, contract with the right people, and be flexible.