We couldn’t help noticing a recent article over at Forbes.com titled “Why Attending Law School is the Worst Career Decision You’ll Ever Make.” While, of course, the title is a little over-the-top because how on earth can you reliably measure job satisfaction, the numbers discussed within should give every budding legal elitist pause to consider. Is law school still all it’s cracked up to be or is it coasting on an old reputation?
Let’s take a closer look.
From Forbes – only 55% of law school grads were employed full-time as lawyers nine months after graduation. That’s icky enough in itself but couple it with the fact that average starting salaries for those who managed to land lawyerly work declined $9,000 from 2009 to 2010. Double ick. Add to this an average student loan debt of $98,500 and you begin to see why the public image of law school as a revered profession is starting to take a beating.
To delve further into the numbers – remember the good old days (like in the movie The Firm) when it was every new law grad’s expectation that he would slide into a comfortable, high-paying position with a big firm, log long hours but make big mon
ey and eventually become a full partner? The Wall Street Journal reports that a mere 8% of 2011 law school graduates found employment with a big firm, defined as one with 250 lawyers or more.
And apparently law schools located outside major metropolitan areas are advising their students to not even try for a flashy Wall Street job. Their best chances lay in going back to their hometown and eking out $45,000 annually writing wills and getting speeding tickets thrown out on technicality.
You can’t fool the public forever. It appears that the dirty little secret is out. Nationally law school applications have dropped almost 25% and 16% fewer LSAT tests are administered. But surely law school is still a solid investment compared to those lame-o, artsy fartsy degrees, right? We’ll leave you with this. The unemployment rate for creative arts grads is half the national average. Furthermore, 71% of bachelor’s degree holders and 86% of those with an MA either are working or have worked as an artist. Maybe it’s like comparing apples and oranges but law school snobs should no longer be so quick to castigate those who choose a “soft” field.
The American Monetary Association Team
Flickr / Tulane Public Relations