Is Law School Worth It Anymore
Personal anecdote: I have a friend, well call him Fletcher, who is considering enrolling in law school as soon as he finishes his undergraduate studies at Syracuse University. Ever since Ive known Fletcher, he has dreamed of pursuing a career in law. The field of law has changed over the years. At first he was looking to be a criminal defense attorney, one day he decided to pursue immigration law, then there was the year he thought he should specialize in copyright law. Right now, Fletcher is in ambition mode, and wants to primarily focus on constitutional law. That is he attends law school at all. His once unwavering enthusiasm has been somewhat tampered as his undergrad days come to a close. Many of his family friends have been working at steering him away from applying to law schools. Fletcher says he receives a few articles a week in his e-mail inbox from these people, all of which paint a gloomy outlook for law school students? Why, I asked myself and him. Shouldnt those who want to enroll in law school be encouraged? Sure, its a tough route, but doesnt it lead to one of the most lucrative careers an American possibly have?
The answer is that used to be true. That used to be true even as recently as 2007. That year was a record breaking year for law school graduates in search of employment. Many of these graduates were able to find entry level positions at some of the biggest law firms in the country, firms that offer a sizeable starting salary. This was the boom year. But like so many booms, a bust inevitably follows. This bust happened fairly quickly too. In March of 2012 alone, the legal industry lost close to 1,300. Thats on top of the staggering loss of jobs in 2011, which equated to 2,500. According to the National Association for Legal Career Professionals, only 87.6 of law school graduates are currently employed, the lowest that total has been since 1996. Of those currently employed, only 50.9% of them had careers at a law firm.
The decline in employment for law school students can be traced back to a few reasons. One of them is the general state of the American economy. The entire country is currently plagued by an unemployment epidemic. Even as jobs are steadily increasing, it is happening far too slowly. The unemployment rate has been slightly north of the 8% mark for the past year. The boom of 2007 is another reason that many recent law school graduates are having a terrible time finding work. Since so many of those top positions were filled only a few years back, the top candidates have been forced to seek employment at mid-level firms in smaller markets. This shakes all the way down to the mom and pop firms that employ two to ten attorneys. While graduates who are able to land jobs even at the latter firms are typically grateful to have been able to find employment at all, the salary is far lower than what they were anticipating on.
The looming problem for these graduates is the debt they are in the second they graduate. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average law school student graduates with a debt burden of $100,433, and this is a debt they have to start paying immediately. For a lot of recent graduates who cant find employment, paying the monthly fee is at best impossible. This exorbitant debt is largely attributed to the skyrocketing tuitions at law schools. Even schools listed in the bottom fourth of law schools have tuitions north of $37,000 per year.
People like my friend Fletcher are all of a sudden being dissuaded from pursuing law school. In the past, people have been dissuaded only because of the huge work load and a lack of passion. But for possibly the first time, there are monetary reasons as well. For more information about labor and employment or automobile accident lawyers, check these out.