In November of 2012, we wrote about how tough times were for recent law school graduates. Record numbers of graduates were being forced to take jobs that didn’t require admission to the Bar, and the Association for Legal Career Professionals, which tracks such trends, was hoping and praying that things in the legal job market had hit bottom. Well, what a difference a year makes! Except not really. At all. As more and more other sectors of the economy damaged by the Recession fight back, employment in the legal field still lags significantly. Many analysts have begun to wonder whether large firms and private companies have learned to adapt in ways (e.g. outsourcing legal assignments to other countries, investing in software that reviews documents better than most humans, etc.) that will continue to shrink the job market for the foreseeable future.
And how do today’s young lawyers respond to this bleak news? Many have elected to file suit. (Is anyone surprised?) At least 24 law schools have been sued by groups of their graduates in the past year, all claiming they were misled about post-graduation job opportunities. Southwestern Law School, for example, boasted that up to 98% of its graduates find employment after graduation. There is some evidence this claim was inflated, however, and Southwestern is currently being sued by a group of the “2%” for whom that good job proved elusive. The plaintiffs claim that the school created positions and used non-legal jobs to boost their employment numbers. If this is true, it would not be unique, unfortunately. Many recent law school graduates—with an average student loan debt of over $100,000—are finding that a large number of job listings for lawyers, including government jobs, offer absolutely no salary. We’re pretty sure that wasn’t in the brochure.
We at Miller Weber Kory are proud of our profession, and believe the practice of law can be a wonderful career. It may be a tough business to get a start in at present, but offers much reward for those who are persistent. We wish all of this year’s new admittees to the Bar all the best.