Hard numbers: What law school graduates should know about employment opportunities

by Samantha on July 31, 2012

The job prospects for recent college graduates are daunting at best. The poor state of the world economy has caused companies and employers of all industries to turn away qualified applicants, many of them fresh out of school. Unfortunately, the grim employment opportunities affected these grads also extend to recently graduated law students.

You don’t often hear about the employment landscape among lawyers, so the fact that it’s hard to find a job as one might come as a surprise to you. Indeed, most people think of lawyers as the rich, powerful, and clever prosecutors depicted on TV crime shows. It’s hard to believe that a profession often thought to be synonymous with financial success should be such an unemployable profession at this time.

But a recent article from The Wall Street Journal confirms the fact that it’s tough to find a job if you just graduated from law school. The article explains that graduates in the class of 2011 had about the chance of a 50/50 coin flip to find a job as a practicing lawyer within the first nine months after their graduation date. Many law school graduates have voiced complaints that their programs didn’t properly inform them about potential employment opportunities prior to starting their classes. Now thousands of degreed lawyers have to compete for relatively few job openings.

The analysis from the article also showed that the chances of employment differed depending on a lawyer’s alma mater. Your chances of finding employment after graduation were far more likely if you were to graduate from an Ivy League law school than if you were to graduate from a smaller program or one offered at a state college. It seems as though hiring law firms are far more likely to risk the few positions they have on graduates from more prestigious programs.

Obviously the unemployment for law school graduates is a serious problem. For one, many graduates have huge amounts of student debt that must be paid off. In some cases, the law school tuition at the end of a student’s studies can amount to over a hundred thousand dollars—certainly far more than an unemployed lawyer can afford. But the bigger problem, the one that the American Bar Association and other related organizations are trying to address, is the misconception about employment opportunities that led many students to law school in the first place.

Law school is just like any other graduate program: expensive and fraught with high risk employment opportunities after graduation. There are success stories to be told, newly degreed lawyers can join the firm of their dreams, but students who work to achieve those dreams must temper their optimism with the realities of the current job market.

What’s your take on the current employment landscape in the field of law?

Samantha Gray was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where she is now a freelance writer. Her niche is education, and her passion is producing and consuming media of all sorts. She loves receiving feedback from her readers at samanthagray024@gmail.com.

Samantha

Samantha

Samantha Gray was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where she is now a freelance writer. Her niche is education, and her passion is producing and consuming media of all sorts. She loves receiving feedback from her readers at samanthagray024@gmail.com.

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