Over the past year there has been a lively discussion on Lawyerist about whether people should attend law school. Much of the discussion has focused on how law students can improve their employment prospects and how career services offices can adapt to put students in the best positions to get jobs.
A recent article, however, suggests that the number of law school graduates working jobs that require a law degree is declining.
One in four recent graduates has a job that does not require a law degree
For the class of 2008, 75% of law school graduates held jobs that required a law degree. That percentage dropped to 71% for the class of 2009, meaning more than 1 in 4 graduates have a job that does not require a law degree.
In addition, 25% of employed law school graduates said their job was temporary. Similarly, 22% of employed grads said they were looking for work even if they had a job.
Is the economy bad, or are there too many lawyers?
Probably both. If more than 25% of recent grads are working in non-legal jobs, that does not mean they want to work at a bank, or doing standup comedy. In all likelihood, they cannot find a paying legal job (or one that pays enough).
In part, this is likely caused by an overabundance of lawyers. In the Twin Cities for example, there are close to 1,000 law school graduates every year. The local legal economy cannot support that. Even if 25% leave the area, 750 legal jobs is a lot. Add to the fact that other young attorneys have been laid off, and other recent grads are still looking for work, and you have a overload of unemployed lawyers.
I still think, if you have the right motivation, that law school can be the right choice. But with soaring costs, and a overloaded market, applicants need to thoughtfully consider whether it is the right choice for them.