TeeJaw Blog

What Comes After Law School? For Too Many It’s Massive Debt And Extended Unemployment

Posted in Culture by TeeJaw on Monday, September 19, 2011, 1: 24 PM

It’s been said by here and elsewhere that law school is like a pie eating contest where first prize is more pie.  The number of law school graduates who don’t win first prize seems to be increasing.  For them there may be no pie at all.  These graduates often face extended unemployment, even for non-law related jobs.

I’ve always disagreed with those who believe a law school education can open doors outside the legal world.  I believe a law degree can in fact close more doors in the non-legal world than it opens because of the tendency of employers to wonder why you can’t get a law job, or to worry that you’ll be a contentious know-it-all who won’t make a good fit in their organization.  Managers who already find their dealings with their own law department or outside law firm less than pleasant won’t want another one in their day-to-day operations.  Another reason you may not get hired into an upwardly mobile management program is the likelihood you’ll use that to try out for a position in the law department or to bolt to a law firm the first chance you get.  In that case, the time and money invested in you will have been wasted.

Bottom line,no one should go to law school if they don’t want to be a lawyer, unless they just want the education for their own personal development reasons.  That means law school is looking more and more like a poor choice:

[F]or the class of 2009 (nine months after graduation), at 30 law schools, only 50% or fewer of the graduates obtained jobs as lawyers. At nearly 90 law schools, one-third or more of graduates did not land jobs as lawyers nine months after graduation. …

That probably doesn’t take into account that a lot of those who do get jobs as lawyers are working very hard at a pay level which won’t make it easy to repay the loans they took out to go to law school.  Lawyers making less than busy plumbers is a real phenomenon.   Plumbers don’t get sued as often and don’t have to carry professional malpractice insurance.  Plumbers probably don’t need to take anti-depressant drugs as much either.

Read it all at TaxProf Blog.

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