TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Most Lawyers Are Satisfied With Their Careers

Milan Markovic (Texas A&M) & Gabriele Plickert (Cal Poly Pomona), Attorneys' Career Dissatisfaction in the New Normal:

The 2008 economic recession had a seismic impact on the legal profession. This Article is the first to empirically assess whether the recession has made law an unsatisfying career.

Relying on survey data from over 11,000 active members of the State Bar of Texas, we find that only 13.5% of all attorneys and 11.5% of full-time attorneys are dissatisfied with their careers. Newer attorneys report greater career dissatisfaction than more experienced attorneys, yet they too are largely satisfied.

Table 3

We also determine using logistic regression that three factors are highly predictive of lawyers’ career dissatisfaction: 1) comparatively low incomes; 2) working in private practice as opposed to in government or in a non-profit/public interest setting; and 3) law firm employment in a non-partnership role. Law school debt and lower class rank have only minor effects on career dissatisfaction whereas race, gender, years of practice experience, practice area, and firm size have no independent effects.

Table 1

Table 2

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Comments

I am sure the authors equate this study with law school grads being satisfied with their decision to attend law school. That would be highly inaccurate as this study (A) DOES NOT INCLUDE THE 40% OR SO OF STUDENTS WHO NEVER MAKE IT AS ATTORNEYS, and (B) doesn't inquire about the impact of debt on those a that are working as attorneys.

Posted by: JM | Aug 22, 2017 6:33:22 AM

So the opinions of non-full-time attorneys, attorneys not working in the legal profession, and with inactive licenses (or who can't pass the bar) are evidently invalid...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 22, 2017 7:43:54 AM

Texas A&M's track record for getting graduates full-time, long-term, license-required jobs:

109 of 223 graduates in 2011
110 of 207 in 2012
77 of 176 in 2013
121 of 232 in 2014
137 of 227 in 2015
121 of 205 in 2016

That works out to an average of 53% of Texas A&M grads who have full-time jobs as lawyers. What of the career satisfaction of the other 47%? Or do those law school graduates not count?

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 22, 2017 8:39:38 AM

Kind of interesting that the 3-6 years (which is 4 years) is about twice as much as the 16 to 20 (which is 5 years). 200K of debt is a lot for this kind of attrition.

Posted by: ConcernTroll | Aug 22, 2017 2:45:02 PM