The Future of Law Jobs


The Future of Law Jobs
So we’ve been reporting on some sad cases of law students who weren’t allowed to pass the bar because of debt, or who weren’t allowed to discharge their debt through bankruptcy, as well as the importance of understanding law school debt. But we’re not all doom and gloom, people! And neither is the legal landscape (at least not totally). The ABA Journal reports that while some law jobs are shrinking, others are getting a boost in today’s economy.

It makes sense that as people watch their spending, paying $350 or more per hour for a lawyer is no longer a preferred option. The result? Legal arenas such as alternative dispute resolution and prepaid legal services are becoming more popular. Other areas of legal practice such as environmental law, consumer protection, and bankruptcy are predicted to flourish, as well. And don’t forget the Wall Street Journal’s article about midsize law firms getting more clients.

So the upshot is you should do your research before you go into debt for law school. And you certainly should be aware of the kind of career options that are likely to be available to you on the other side of your JD. But if you love the prospect of working in the law, you don’t need to shelve your dream because the entire arena is imploding. People might want mint chocolate chip instead of fudge ripple, but they’re still eating ice cream.

3 Responses

  1. Riley says:

    These mid-sized law firms offer some additional perks as well: like the ability to maintain a life.

    The big law firms mean big prestige and big money, but some of my friends that work at smaller firms firms are still making well over 100k and actually still understand the concept of a weekend.

  2. Ramin says:

    Uplifting read…hearing negative things about law school/lawyering throws an unnecessary wrench into already emotionally-draining LSAT studying.

    A question for the instructors – in your experience, what percentage of your student do you think actually understand what they’re getting themselves into? Let’s define “understand” as a basic familiarity with the financial realities of law school (e.g., the staggering debt law grads can incur), employment landscape (the chances of landing big law jobs outside of the T14 schools), and the realities of lawyering in general.

    I ask because the majority of fellow LSATter’s I have spoken to seem to be considering law school for one or more of the following reasons:

    1.) Post-graduation uncertainty
    2.) Some form of the old “I like arguing” trick
    3.) Dodging the economic climate/job market
    4.) Some form of the old “law has always interested me” trick (this seems to be a go-to for many)
    5.) Cash, money, models/bottles
    6.) I want to make a change in the world. A JD will make my idealistic pursuits more feasible.

    I’m not saying that my sample is representative. But there seems to be some consistency.

  3. Jodi says:

    Ramin: Having helped more students than I can count with their admissions essays, your break-down is fairly on target. However, I think a more fundamental question is if it’s “okay” to go to law school, given that a student’s motivation might be one or more of these things.

    The answer is that there is probably no right or wrong reason to attend law school. However, there are people who are more or less suited to different kinds of legal work. So a person might attend law school to change the world, only to find once they’ve graduated that they’d rather work with at-risk kids at a nonprofit, rather than work in its legal department.

    The solution is to try as many different law jobs through internships, shadowing lawyers, and attending legal forums as possible. That way, you can hopefully transmute “I don’t know what else to do” into “I really think I’d enjoy ____”.

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