Monday, October 20, 2008

Law Jobs in the Economic Downturn

TaxProf has posted a blog entry discussing bleak job prospects for current law students. Hey, TaxProf, I've got news for you: it sucks for current graduates, too!


Anonymous said...

Hey Bruce,
I just started reading our blog recently. I'm in the process of applying to law schools this cycle but am having serious doubts considering the current economic crisis. Many say that it is in times of recession when law applications increase but I have a good feeling that in three years, we will still be in deep recession. For lack of a better expression...can you elaborate on how much it (job prospects) sucks for current graduates right now and your insights on the near future (3-5 years) for prospective law students? Thanks.
I've only read a few of your posts, just started on your bar review trips- looks awesome- cool blog keep it up!

Bruce said...

Hi Anonymous,

My biggest piece of advice for anyone considering law school comes in three parts:

First, have some working experience as a professional. Law school can be very competitive, so there is no guarantee you will be in the top 10%. If you do not get into a top 25 law school, you'll have to be in the top 10% of your class to have a shot at having a job secured when you leave law school. Having some working experience helps, because employers will see that you have some professional experience, so you know how to handle yourself in and around the office, which can be difficult to teach.

Second, assess your finances. You may be lucky enough to secure some sort of scholarship, but don't bet on it. Even with a bar loan to cover yourself for bar prep, the bar exam, and the up to 4 months of waiting for the results (fewer in most states other than California), you may find yourself running out of funds. That's another reason professional experience helps: you can save up some money for the tougher times.

Finally, be sure it is something you really want. I would say the vast majority of law students do it because their families expect them to, because they move in social circles that expect them to (i.e., all their friends are doing it), or because they think it's going to be their ticket to higher income or income potential. Many such students manage to survive and do alright, but it can be extremely frustrating for them when they encounter obstacles on their way. Those who do it for the sheer love of it, on the other hand, or to fulfill a long-held career aspiration (i.e., it's what they've always wanted to be when they grow up), not only are more likely to put their hearts into it (and therefore to work both harder and smarter to get to that top 10%), but are also probably better equipped to handle academic and career setbacks.

If you keep these three pieces of advice in mind, then the impact of the economy will matter less, because you will be best equipped to do what you need to do to come out on top.

I hope that helped!