Number Applying to Law School to Hit 30-year Low (Applicants Starting to Realize There Are Already Too Many Lawyers?)
January 29, 2013
I saw this when a classmate (a friend who graduated with me from law school and is now a manual laborer in the oilfields of North Dakota) posted it on Facebook:
So far, applications are down 20 percent from where they were in 2012. Law school applications are down 38 percent from where they were in 2010.
. . . the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) reports that applications will drop below 60,000 submissions for the first time since 1983, when they started keeping records.
(Hyperlink in original.)
Maybe it has something to do with things like this (and with the fact that the counterarguments are terrible):
Today, countless J.D.’s are paying their bills with jobs that have nothing do with the law, and they are losing ground on their debt every day. Stories are legion of young lawyers enlisting in the Army or folding pants at Lululemon. Or baby-sitting, like Carly Rosenberg, of the Brooklyn Law School class of 2009.
“I guess I kind of assumed that someone would hook me up with something,” she says. She has sent out 15 to 20 résumés a week since March, when she passed the bar. So far, nothing.
I’m no economist or statistician (though I am a lawyer), but from where I’m sitting, in market terms, it appears that there are already too many lawyers; so, many of us already can’t find full-time jobs practicing law, and the profession continues to add thousands more lawyers every year (about a thousand a year in Ohio alone, I believe). More from that New York Times article:
Law school defenders note that huge swaths of the country lack adequate and affordable access to lawyers, which suggests that the issue here isn’t oversupply so much as maldistribution. But when the numbers are crunched, studies find that most law students need to earn around $65,000 a year to get the upper hand on their debt.
In other words, for the money many law-school graduates can make as law-school graduates, they might as well not have gone to law school. They would have been better off going into some other field (preferably one that doesn’t involve another degree and the attendant student debt).
Apparently there’s a whole book about this:
Elite schools like Harvard Law School, Yale Law School and Columbia Law School have been able to charge more and still fill their classes, while placing graduates in good jobs, but the same cannot be said for non-elite schools, which make up the majority.
“Let’s talk about what really matters,” Mr. Tamanaha said to NLJ. “There are not enough jobs, and a law degree costs too much for the money they are making.”
Update (January 29th, 2013): At Tax Prof Blog, Professor Caron points out that the decline in applicants is not spread evenly:
Interestingly, the decline in law school applications is greatest among those with the highest LSAT scores (170-180, 24%-25% decline) and is least among those with LSAT scores below 140 (15% decline) and 165-169 (16% decline).
In other words, the smartest people are the most likely to conclude that law school is a bad deal?
Update (February 5th, 2013): Tax Prof Blog also linked to this in 2011: “The Poor Employment Market for Law Grads Predates the Recession”. Excerpt:
Two weeks ago I wrote a post about the remarkably high number of graduates of the class of 2009 who failed to obtain jobs as lawyers. When confronted with data like this, law schools respond that the dismal job placement rate is a recent phenomenon, a product of the current recession, suggesting that things were fine before and all will be well once again when the legal market rebounds. . . .
The problem with this response is that it is not true.
. . .
On a fairly consistent basis, almost one third of law graduates in the past decade have not obtained jobs as lawyers [nine months after graduation], and the above chart suggests that this is disproportionately the case at the lower ranked law schools.
(Links and emphasis in original.)
Update (February 15th, 2013): I was amused to receive this in an e-mail from Monster.com today:
4 Job Skills That No Longer Impress Recruiters
By Alida Moore, PayScale.com
. . .
According to online salary database, PayScale.com, the skills on this list have seen the biggest drop in market value over the last few years. “These skills are associated with jobs the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts to have slow to no growth over the next 10 years,” says Katie Bardaro, Director of Analytics at PayScale.com. “Often, to be successful in your career, you need to have multiple skills to set yourself apart,” says Bardaro.
If the skill that tops your resume is on this list, it may be wise to invest time in developing other skills related to your career and industry.
. . .
An abundance of underemployed law school grads makes this skill not as impressive as it used to be. If you want to compete with them, you may need to head back to law school yourself.