Monday, November 25, 2013
National Law Journal op-ed: Why Young People Are Rejecting Law School, by Jeremy Paul (Dean, Northeastern):
Let's just come right out and say it. Although our profession will rise again, right now being a lawyer just isn't quite as cool as it used to be. ...
Why are so many college graduates deciding to pursue other careers? The familiar explanation is an easy one. Job prospects for law school graduates have dwindled as economic conditions have pummeled private law firms and government-funded legal services. Clients have balked at paying firms to train junior associates, while governments have slashed funding. Who wouldn't pause before applying to law school when anticipated incomes may prove insufficient to enable graduates to repay their education loans? Blaming the recent collapse in demand for a legal education solely on economics, however, is too easy. ...
As long as law deans accept the conventional wisdom that our struggles are solely about money, legal education will never recover the national standing it deserves. Instead, legal educators and professional leaders must tackle directly public perceptions of the value lawyers add to everyday life. Twenty-first-century lawyers will write rules that enable people to work together to grow the economy, allocate resources more fairly, battle environmental threats and preserve notions of privacy in an Internet age. If we communicate clearly a vision of lawyers as the architects of a just society, plenty of aspiring lawyers will sign up for the ride.