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New Attorneys Face Horrible Job Market

Updated on June 30, 2012

Well, in the land of plenty, where there is just about too much of every one thing, things are catching up with the legal profession. It use to be the sought glamour job, being an attorney. drive that high end car, earn $200+ per hour, snazzy clothes, buy that 4000 sf house for two.

For those already established, that remains true. They've made it in good times. These are not the good times. For newbie law grads, starting 2011, a recent poll has found that they have only a 50% chance of landing a job as a lawyer within nine months after passing the Bar. The poll consisted of about 50,000 law grads. The results are sobering:

  • 10% are unemployed or in a job needing no legal education
  • 23% were in part-time jobs where legal education was not needed or they were not even looking for work
  • 4% were in legal related jobs but their education helped little
  • 8% were in jobs that their degree did help, yet still not a job requirement
  • The remaining were in jobs that required a law degree

Every year, about 40,000 new lawyers enter into the job market. In the last year, over 12 lawsuits from former students occurred alleging that the school misled them during enrollment about employment opportunities. Only the top tier 14 law schools seemed to avoid these numbers, most of their grads are working in their field. The numbers reflect the lower 87 law schools that are also pumping out grads.

The survey also found that it was usually very large firms, those with 200+ attorneys, most likely to hire new grads. It is not the small firms of less than 10 attorneys. Jobs in government and counties are also not sure bets for employment. Of all the law schools polled, only 12 reported that 80% of their grads were employed and the remaining schools reported fewer than 40% of their grads were working in law.

The top schools in the survey are: University of Virgina, Columbia University, Stanford, Harvard, and New York University. The worse schools are: Whittier College, Gold Gate University, Thomas Jefferson law school and Western New England.

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