Entry-Level Lawyers Job Prospects Are Looking Terrible

One expects legal academics to use the Socratic method for teaching students. But when it comes to the subject of going to law school, many of them are engaged in pure sophistry. Many of them felt insulated from the effects of the recession when only recent law school graduates faced challenging job prospects and non-dischargeable debt loads.

It is worth pausing for a moment to appreciate the likely dynamic between the market for new law students and the market for new lawyers, not least because it offers a ray of hope in what otherwise might seem a dismal landscape. If, as appears is already occurring, the legal academy significantly contracts, in just a few years there will be substantially fewer law graduates seeking Law Jobs. Even if the number of entry-level Law Jobs remains more or less flat, the Law-Jobs Ratio will significantly improve. In other words, with fewer new lawyers chasing fewer Law Jobs, more graduates who want a Law Job should be able to get one.

The market for legal education will not adjust as markets usually do because the market for legal education is protected from normal market forces by the American taxpayer. It just feels like law professors right now are getting their intellectual jollies by trying to see who can engage in the neatest bit of sophistry in defense of going to law school. But eventually one would think that the self-preservation motive would kick in and these guys would start bending their intellectual will towards actual reform instead of clever arguments in support of the status. At one level, this reduces to the simple economic observation that there is an oversupply of new law graduates relative to the Law Jobs available for them. If this is correct, that oversupply should continue until the market adjusts. There does not seem to be any reason to believe that the market will not adjust as markets usually do. In the face of an excess supply of law graduates, demand and price for law degrees should fall.

Also, a very large percentage of the people who do make it to Big Law are out in 2-4 years and miserable into the bargain. The problem isn’t just getting a highly paid legal job, it’s surviving it and keeping it if you do get it.

Related articles