Thursday, December 1, 2011

Have We Reached Peak Lawyer? (Is Law School a Good Idea for Many of the People Pursuing It?)


This blog post assembles the evidence that the demand for legal services in America is declining while the number of people who want to go law school has stayed high.   Specifically, the number of law school graduates each year is approximately double the number of available legal jobs, a number of which will be taken by experienced attorneys who are now unemployed.   Law school for many entering students is now a consumer fraud, particularly for those going to lower-ranked schools and especially for those who end up taking on tens--or hundreds--of thousands of dollars of debt to attend.   It may even be true--as this post suggests--that a law degree may make some law school graduates generally less employable than they would be if they had not slogged through those three years in school.

A big part of the problem is delusion on a mass scale.  Too many people hear the stories of newly minted attorneys making $160,000 the first year out of law school and see themselves in that picture.   There are people like that, just like there are attorneys working at large law firms for more than a decade who feel pressured by their partners to bill $600 per hour for their work.   But the reality is that the attorneys raking in those kind of big bucks are a minority that is facing strong pressure and resistance from clients who are increasingly refusing to pay those high hourly rates.   Set aside questions of whether even high-income lawyers find the work excessive or boring, on a purely financial level the reality is that there are a significant number of unemployed lawyers and a large number of lawyers with some work who are struggling to get by.   

Going to law school was a good decision for me, and it might be a good decision for others.   But caveat emptor, folks.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan, who provided some of the title of this blog post.   

[UPDATED for clarity and to correct a number.]


Unknown said...

I didn't go to school to be a lawyer, should have we need more good ones that won't screw you over,I got my Bachelor's degree in criminal justice and like for lawyer's criminal justice is consumer fraud. My reasons for getting the degree were different than for getting a job like as a cop, corrections officer or others the degree would qualify me for. It is down right pathetic to lie about how there is a high demand for these types of things. Even though my reasons were different, I was in high hopes of getting a job in my field to pay off my school loans and so I may be able to help anyone with what I was going through.

Unknown said...

My point is that there are no jobs out there in my field like they said and because of the freaking bloody economy. I am so disapointed.