“Law school is a factory for depressives”
From The Brazen Careerist - Don’t try to Dodge the Recession with grad school:
It used to be that if you had a law degree it was a ticket to a high salary and a safe career. Today many people go to law school and cannot find a job. This is, in a large part, because law school selects for people who are good with details and pass tests and law firms select for people who are good at marketing themselves and can drum up business. Law firms are in a transition phase, and they have many unfair labor practices leftover from older generations, for example, hourly billing and making young lawyers pay dues for what is, today, a largely uncertain future. Which might explain why the American Bar Association reports that the majority of lawyers would recommend that people not to go into law.
While some of this might smack of hyperbole, there is a degree of truth in it too. Law has long been seen as a sure-fire ticket to ride on that elusive gravy train – in the UK just as much as the US. I remember noting in my first year as an undergrad that half the people on my LLB course were ostensibly doing it for the ‘wrong reasons’, based loosely on perceptions of money falling from the sky and into their greedy pockets with that ‘qualifying law degree’ behind them.
So is law still a good bet in the current climate? There are worse things that you could be studying out there, that’s for sure. And, as ever, I think it’s a good background to have for a lot of other career paths. As for those hell-bent on a career practicing law, God help you, the ‘over saturation’ of the legal job market that has been an issue for years now is arguably made worse by the effects of the credit crisis coming through with full vigour. But it doesn’t end there: for those that do manage to secure an elusive position, the productivity pressures bearing down on them have surely never been higher, nor the likelihood of their services suddenly being deemed surplus to requirements.
With all this in mind, I entered the LLM course feeling understandably uncertain about taking on extra debt and financial commitments. Thus far, though, I’m very pleased I did so and feel I have derived considerably more value from this course than any other I have taken. Getting a job does worry me, but rightly so – it’s tough out there.
I think the Brazen Careerist’s advice that seeking to educate your way out of recession or un-employability is not necessarily advisable. Education is usually always a good thing, but now more than ever, it has to be done for the right reasons and as part of a coherent career plan. Potential students also need to be realistic: with grade inflation and a career market dominated by a supply-demand equation which has never looked so unfavourable, a number of hard, searching questions need to be asked as to whether this is really going to add to your career prospects.