Burdened With Debt, Law School Graduates Struggle In Job Market
Spend three years giving yourself to law school. Graduate and go into Big Law at a starting salary of $160,000. Sell your soul to Big Law for a few years to pay off your debt and then you’ll be set.
It’s a plan for many and was the plan for 2010 Columbia Law School grad, Jonathan Wang. The only unforeseen problem with is plan is the 2010 part. The legal profession was booming when Wang entered law school. It was crashing when he graduated. Instead of being five years into a Big Law career, he’s five years into an LSAT tutoring gig. It’s not all bad, he still makes $100 an hour, but it’s certainly not what he intended.
The truth is, he’s not alone. There are still about 20 percent of 2010 law graduates working in positions that do not require a JD. Law school enrollment, of course, hit a peak of 52,488 in 2010. In 2008, law firms began taking economic hits and stopped hiring. Many even let go attorneys.
So many are staring to wonder what exactly happened with the class of 2010 and why they haven’t recovered. Deborah Merritt, a professor at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law, decided to investigate. She examined graduates of Ohio law schools and compared their employment rates with the national rates as well as law school graduates from 2000.
Why 2000? That was the last recession, caused by the dotcom bust. And what she found was they recovered. The 2000 graduates eventually found jobs. A large portion of the 2010 graduates have not.
“These outcomes contrast markedly with those from the 2000 graduating class, which was also shadowed by an economic recession but were later able to better their positions,” Merritt told The New York Times. “But that type of progress has not occurred for the Class of 2010.”
What’s the best option for these graduates? Some are taking matters into their own hands and opening up their own legal practices. Others are trying to pay the bills by doing random jobs. The issue is they can’t put those jobs on their resumes for fear of looking “less prestigious” and then are forced to explain employment gaps.
“I thought the LSAT tutoring gig was going to be a temporary thing, but five years and one bar admission renewal later, here I am,” Wang told The Times. “I waffle constantly, but I’m still in the mind-set that I need to find a real job,” he said.
Source: The New York Times
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