Tuesday, December 7, 2010

One In A Million

The legal industry has had a problem long before the recession. Yes, we've been hurt by the recession too, but long before that our industry was saturated with lawyers. For years, law schools have been herding students into their classrooms. That's great for students who aren't quite ready to enter the working world and for those who really want to practice law, but maybe wouldn't have the credentials to get in if the classes were smaller. But the problem lies when all of these students graduate. Now what? You've got a JD. Congrats. Now it's time to study for and take the bar exam. Good luck. If you don't pass, I hope you have a bachelor's degree that you can fall back on while you study and retake the exam. Or maybe you were one of the lucky few to secure employment and even luckier that your employer is going to stick by you while you take it a second time. When you pass, CONGRATS!! I know what a relief that is (I passed two different state bar exams on the first try each time *patting myself on the back*. Hey. Sometimes, it's ok to toot your own horn. *Toot toot*). If you don't have employment lined up then what?

Unfortunately, the sad reality for so many graduates is that there are no jobs available for them. This is frightening when you've just racked up thousands in student loan debt to attend law school. When I graduated from law school, I didn't yet know where I would be working. Luckily, just before I took the bar exam, I got word that I landed a clerkship. Whew! But I know several attorneys who graduated the same year as me who never landed full-time, permanent legal positions. And I'm talking, we are some years past graduation. Instead, several have gone on to pursue non-legal careers, while others have gone back to get Masters in other areas of study or are preparing to go back to school. I wonder if they wish they had skipped law school and gone to grad school instead. And underemployment is real for lawyers. No one enters law school thinking that they will graduate only to find themselves struggling to make ends meet. It makes people wonder, "Was going to law school the wise thing to do?"

Working Girls, how's the market in your industry? Do you find that there are just too many people in your industry vying for the same jobs? Have you had any experience with this in your industry?


Marie said...

My parents are attorneys and my brother had considered going to law school, so I have heard a lot about this issue. It is a challenging time to be in the law field - it is not quite the golden ticket that I think some of my peers thought it was. Congrats to you for securing great jobs!

My field (journalism) is not in great shape either, although I am currently on the communications side, which I think is more stable. It makes me anxious to read things like this because I feel like the future is so uncertain, with whole industries collapsing left and right. What's a Working Girl to do?

Katie said...

I graduated in 2008, and it took many months after graduation/bar passage for a few of my friends to find jobs. One or two went into an alternate field. But the following year was a drought around here. Both private firms and public sector organizations were in a hiring freeze. Several people who graduated in 2009 had to start their own practice, which seems harder than I could imagine.

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Careared said...

I was lucky to have a job lined up in a law firm when I graduated from law school. But that was 2004 and I couldn't imagine facing the legal market today as a recent graduate saddled with the nearly $200,000 in loans I had. Like many lawyers, I was soon jaded by the profession and made it my mission to get out as soon as dug myself out of debt. I cringe to think what would have happened if I had gone to law school just a few years later and found myself without good job prospects. Unfortunately, I think the bad economy has driven even MORE people to law school and those people increasingly find themselves between a rock and a hard place. I write about these issues and my experience on my website, http://careared.com/.