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:
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