Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Year-End Snapshot of the job market

From "Adjunct Law Prof Blog"

Student loan debt is up and job expectations are down according to a year-end, informal snapshot of several sources. The online ABA Journal is reporting today that almost a third of all law students expect to graduate with more than $120k in loan debt. Over at Above the Law, editor Elie Mystal describes, in a column called "Debt: the Silent Killer," the effect $150k in law school debt has had on him since he graduated from Harvard Law in 2003. Since he decided he didn't like the practice of law after all, he calls the experience "a very expensive vacation that debt financed." The ABA president is urging Congress to offer law students debt relief.

On the employment side of the equation, the year that just concluded represents the worst period ever in BigLaw lay-offs with more than 12,000 jobs lost. The picture is brighter for more nimble, mid-size firms although even 65% of those surveyed still expect to reduce associate salaries in the coming year. And then there's this: "Associate Pay Cuts Here to Stay."

Perhaps for that reason, law students have changed their expectations about working in the private sector with more indicating a desire for (lower paying) public interest work according to the most recent Law School Survey of Student Engagement (and here).

This year's survey found that the percentage of law students who expected to work in private law firms dropped to 50 percent, down from about 58 percent in each of the previous three years. The percentage of law students who anticipated finding work in the public-interest sector rose to 33 percent, from about 29 percent in each of the past three years.

The findings "may indicate that law students are reframing their career expectations in response to changes in the economic climate that have affected hiring at many law firms," said Lindsay Watkins, the survey's project manager.

How will it all end? This article reminds us that we've been through a severe legal recession before and survived just fine - some even thrived. Whether circumstances exist now that didn't then (more law schools, more law grads, outsourcing, etc.) is still the big unknown.

Full link here:


*REMINDER: All racist/anti-Nigerian/anti-Semitic comments will be removed. Comments are being moderated before publication. So don’t waste your time- no one will see/read your racist gutter ranting. Get the picture? Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Wow, great post. Seems this blog is really looking up. Good job.

Nando said...

And don't forget: when the economy recovers, the legal jobs will not suddenly re-appear. Firms (and clients) will see that they can get by with less staff.

In the final analysis, law schools are businesses. Most don't care whether their graduates are unemployed. They lie about their employment figures and starting salary info. Then, when many find themselves after three years (and tons of student debt), the school turns around and blames the student for not being diligent enough. Remember, it is ALL your fault - as a student/recent graduate/new attorney - for your situation.

Don't you just love our "educators"?

Anonymous said...

Wow, and I'd say wow wow, If for once some people actually provided intel as to current document review projects going on in nyc. Agency, firm, number of temps, rate, start date, anticipated duration.

Anything coming up in next few weeks?

and who's got free soup kitchen on Thursdays?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, more people gunning for these public interest jobs is going to somehow improve everyone's chances! Give me a break, it was always competitive to get a job even in PI, even those jobs generally look for students from top schools. This is nothing new, the only thing new is that less people are getting higher paying jobs and the trickle down effect is even less people are getting these crappy jobs as well, and candidates that before would have had a firm job are displacing those that didn't even have those options, which is most students.

I am not buying this "rosy" outlook on jobs coming back and the economy improving. This recession is pretty much here to stay. Nothing will be done about the student loans issue because there really isn't that much that needs to be done, if you can't pay student loans you just can't pay them. The government already paid for them and now you just get harassed by collectors and maybe dragged into court, where you say you can't pay them.

Anonymous said...

There are always those that cry out that the sky is falling.

Sure there are victims in this downturn, and some of them, sadly, will never get back on their feet. The market will continue to change and adapt, because that is what happens. The workforce might shrink, it might, due to circumstances you don't forsee, expand.

And don't forget that not everyone gets a prize. Some of the unemployed/unemployable are right where they belong. There are winners and there are losers...why is it now that nobody can be a loser?

And one more thing...ever do a search to see what percentage of people actually ARE working in the field of their degree? It was not very high the last time I looked. In fact, lawyers might be right around the average, even now.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this excellent piece L4L. Thanks most of all for immediately deleting the racist anti-semetic gutter-brained comments.....just despicable and nasty . You're doing great job.

Anonymous said...

Well, since you are not even a JD yet, you are still a starry eyed lemming. I would suggest you spend more time studying and less time blogging or you will end up like those at which you scoff.

As far public interest law, this is just the next rush over the cliff for many lemmings. The reason for this surge is that there is now a loan forgiveness program for those practicing in this area. Every starry eyed 1L tool thinks they are going to save the world and get their loans dishcarged....fat chance.

What these lemmings don't know is that these jobs were always impossible to get and the domain of elite law schools. Now with the free money, every half-wit JD with a 145 LSAT will be gushing about public interest law as they pile up $200k in non-dischargeable debt.

The current level of debt and concomitant dearth of opportunity are unprecedented. These poor fools like this guy above have no idea what they are getting to.

Good luck, you'll need it.

Anonymous said...

Social capitalism has winners and losers too. The difference between laissez faire capitalism and social capitalism is that advocates of the former seems to think a real social safety net will prevent competition whereas in the long run social capitalists realize that business is better where there is a floor. Remember we are not discussing the ceiling of how you can climb. It is a debate about a system set up for people to fall and fall hard. This is not sustainable. You can look at economic indicators to see who we are starting to fall behind other countries. When you start eating your middle class, as this country is doing, where even white collar jobs like lawyers are subject to poverty or low income living- what's level before you are a banana republic? I would rather have slow real growth based on something than this mess of shock capitalism that the U.S. practices. Education, health care, and other basics should not be the basis of winning or losing. Great ideas should be. And, no, great ideas are not simply a matter of wealth. It is also a matter of opportunity to implement them.

Anonymous said...

8:58 hit the nail sqaure on the head. The prestigious public interest gigs at ACLU, NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, et al were always as hard to get (if not harder) than Biglaw. These places are looking for elite Ivy grads with top grades, not the Brooklyn and St. John's crew. Check their websites- mostly its Harvard/Yale/Stanford/Chicago/Columbia grads. The few toileteers at these places are old timers hired in the 1970s before law as a profession collapsed.

The NJ public defender's offices have an indefinite hiring freeze, and even low level public-defender gigs are pretty damn competitive in NY/NJ/CT. This will only get worse as more and more states go bankrupt and slash social services etc. Legal services are easy to cut because the public hate criminals and could care less if they get lawyers or not. If you're a politician, would you rather cut garbage pickup, snow removal, DMV hours, or public defenders? Enough said.

Anonymous said...

I am having trouble feeling sorry for law students and unemployed grads. I work for a big company, good benefits, stable position. My company has been trying to hire someone for a non-lawyer position that requires legal know how. Salary expectations are simply through the roof....I'm amazed at how many unemployed lawyers/law grads think 50-65 K is not worth it and would prefer to stay unemployed. Two years out, I have the 120K (left) in debt too, but geez, the economy sucks and it's a good paying job in a good company.

Sparer Fellow said...

"These places are looking for elite Ivy grads with top grades, not the Brooklyn and St. John's crew."

Naw, not true. I went to a great summer placement as a Sparer Fellow (that's a public interest fellowship at Brooklyn Law). There were four other summer interns besides me. Two were from Columbia and two were from NYU and they were all pathetic - no initiative, no spirit, no vision. They sat in the library all summer, doing research and whining.

One day the managing partner walked past the library and heard one of them saying, "How come [Sparer Fellow] gets to present cases in court and do on-site visits in group homes?" The managing partner backed up, stared at them from the doorway, and snapped, "Because [Sparer Fellow] ASKED to do those things."

Yeah, it was a while ago, but it's still true: if you're enthusiastic and a self-starter, you don't need to be from an Ivy League school. I've worked in public interest law ever since, and I'll tell you something: no public interest organization wants whiners who really really wanted a Biglaw job but couldn't get one so they're slumming in PI until the economy picks up. Fuck them. The ones who went to law school - even Brooklyn, which has great clinical programs - specifically because they wanted to do public interest work will beat out the Ivy League don't-really-wanna-be-heres every time.

Anonymous said...

You have some strange terms. "Private sector" means law firms, I guess. "Public-interest sector" means what? Public defender? Prosecutor? Government?

Seems to me that what you boys call "shitlaw" is the real public interest sector. You know, real people.

Anonymous said...


Why are you lying?

The employment stats alone says that a majority or plurality of lawyers and JD never practice law. They take non-legal positions. Most taking positions that are in the salary range you describe or lower. This has been true for decades. A quick internet search can verify the numbers.

Despite statistical evidence to the contrary, you claim it is difficult to find a lawyer or JD for your position. Statistically speaking, this does not read as credible. It reads like a lie.

I am curious to know how many people here reading your post would not take the position you describe. Actually, there is one other choice- there is something wrong with your company.

If you are going to make an outlandish claim, at least, make it read as believable against the back drop of easily obtainable contra evidence.

I have a question: What do you gain by lying on an unknown blog?

Anonymous said...

L4L it seems the blog needs your
investment of time and effort.
Sometimes I wonder and fret
about the racist, anti foreigner/
Nigerian sentiments on this blog.
Every post, every day, without
end, teems with racist vitriol.
Demand for lawyers is low, wages
stagnant or declining, and the
Bars just want to keep filling
ridiculous diploma mills with kids.
ABA, I no longer look to you to
champion sensible policy in this
ever declining industry. Law really

Anonymous said...

"When you start eating your middle class, as this country is doing, where even white collar jobs like lawyers are subject to poverty or low income living- what's level before you are a banana republic?"

We ARE a banana republic.

Look at LA or NYC: plenty of wealthy do-nothings cocooned in their enclaves and surrounded by ghetto favelas, and no middle class.

Anonymous said...

Just Another JD Wannabe,

Please shut your mouth. Your opinions on the legal field are worthless. Please first walk a mile in a lawyer's shoes before you judge who is a "loser".

Until then, you reveal yourself as an arrogant know-it-all.

Anonymous said...

I'm a tier 3 grad and I've been taking Court Assigned Counsel work and Law Guardian work in Family Court. The state pays for it--$75 an hour. Better than wasting your time in coding hell.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Just Another J.D. to Be:

You're every law school administrator's dream come true. Someone who quietly and obediently regurgitates the company line. "In the free market, there are winners and losers...In the free market, there are winners and losers...In the free market,..."

Hahahaha, sorry, kid. This market is far from "free." It's been rigged by the law student deans, the BIGLAW firms that control the ABA, and the student loan lenders.

The deans will continue publishing false, misleading employment data, while collecting kickbacks from the student loan lenders. The BIGLAW-controlled ABA will continue condoning, encouraging the outsourcing of America's legal work. And the student loan lenders will continue bribing Congress to make sure student loans remain immune from the Bankruptcy Code and the Statute of Limitations.

JD2B, the smartest thing you could do right now would be to drop out. Don't fall deeper into debt or deeper into this futureless profession.

Anonymous said...

So now the law school deans and their lemmings have a new weapon in their arsenal: "You can always go into Public Interest Law." Not to be confused with the other weapon in their arsenal: "You can always become a Solo Practitioner." How long before they attack us with, "There are lots of non-legal jobs for JDs out there"?? Hahaha. Sure, sure, tell me another bedtime story, Grandpa.

The Yuppie Attorney said...

1st, I am not going to rip on the Nigerians. But, I will say the Recruiters seem to go after the worst people to fill HB1 visas.

2d, I have notice recent grads are saying out loud they don't expect to every practice law. Not by choice either. They seem to be doing the Nefarious Calculus in their heads, and they are seeing a losing situation. Their usual optimism is just gone.

Anonymous said...

Tom you suck.

Anonymous said...

2:50 am, you are wrong. The public interest sector is currently filled with a FREE gang of deferred Biglaw associates, to whom Biglaw is paying 1/2 a first year firm salary. This has crowded out almost all the non-elite grads. (who never had much of a shot at these public-interest gigs even before the recession)

Anonymous said...

By "winners and losers" I was referring to those who found work and those who didn't.

Touchy bunch, aren't we?


Anonymous said...

I thought the court appointed lists were difficult to get on to, and you needed nominations from judges you had presented cases to in the past. For most doc reviewers, they wouldn't be able to get this work, and also most recent grads.

Unless I'm wrong on this? I haven't seriously looked into going into this although others have mentioned it to me too.

mack said...

There are so many fantastic web designers out there that share their work with the rest of us...
The article of this blog very informative and useful also.It resolves many problems of mine.
I loved it.thanks for this marvelous article...................
get academic

Anonymous said...

That is an awesome photo of the vintage camera...

law software | attorney software
law firm logos