Dan Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern; President, AALS), Law Schools and the Lost Generation:
Elie Mystal has a post today on Above the Law that gets to the heart of a real problem, and one which potentially will only grow in significance and impact. Law grads, as he notes, feel increasingly disaffected from their law schools once they graduate, this disaffection being tied not principally (my characterization, not his) to the quality of the education provided, but to the employment outcomes and correlative debt burden suffered by students out in the marketplace with challenges and stress. In the law schools, we call this group (grads of the last seven years or so) “the lost generation.”
The basic problem which undergirds Elie’s righteous and thoughtful post is that law schools too often regard their unemployed or underemployed graduates, more than, say, a year out, as someone else’s problem. Even those law schools that work hard, and creatively, to increase employment opportunities for their current students and newly-minted graduates lack the clear incentives to continue that assistance — and in a tangible way — over the several beginning years of their graduates’ careers. No wonder why young alums perceive their law school as connecting with them only with their hands out for money. They are more right than wrong.
Let’s keep it real and say, again with credit to Elie’s main message in this post that law schools must be proactive and strategic in providing their graduates with assistance over at least the first few years following graduation.
Elie Mystal (Above the Law), Who Is To Blame For Declining LSAT Applications?:
If you look at the general trend of law school reforms, such as they are, they’re all designed to appeal to the next crop of law students. Law schools are doing nothing to to ameliorate the losses of their former recent students. ...
Law schools think that their recent graduates who got screwed aren’t their problem anymore. In fact, those guys are the biggest problem for law schools. It’s those people, more than anybody else, who are telling their friends and family to “stay away.” It’s those parents who are saying to other parents “my kid went to law school, and look what happened.” Law school deans, economists, and (some members of) the media act like the glut of unemployed and under-employed law graduates no longer affects the market going forward because they’re no longer competing for the choice entry-level jobs. But these people didn’t just die. They’re still out there, still struggling, and still telling their stories to anyone who will listen.
Law schools have created an army of people who tell other people not to go to law school. That is their legacy over the past half decade. Their damage to their own brands is severe.