Paul L. Caron
Dean





Monday, April 27, 2015

NY Times: Burdened With Debt, Law Grads Struggle in Job Market

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book:  Burdened With Debt, Law School Graduates Struggle in Job Market, by Elizabeth Olson:

About 20 percent of law graduates from 2010 are working at jobs that do not require a law license, according to a new study, and only 40 percent are working in law firms, compared with 60 percent from the class a decade earlier. To pay the bills, the 2010 graduates have taken on a variety of jobs, some that do not require admission to the bar; others have struck out on their own with solo practices. Most of the graduates have substantial student debt.

Even as law school enrollment was peaking in 2010 — reaching 52,488, according to ABA figures — those graduating were not receiving job offers from firms where they were interning. And offers to some students were rescinded. ...

At the time, legal scholars predicted that when the economy turned the corner, the new graduates would find jobs. But the checkered job outcomes for the 2010 law graduates could be predicted by their early employment numbers, said Deborah J. Merritt, a law professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.

She wrote What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession, a study published in March that examined the careers of those graduates and the legal marketplace.

Brian Galle (Boston College), Ohio is Not New York. Or Even Texas:

The Times today has a write-up of the recent Deborah Jones Merritt study of employment outcomes for the JD Class of '10 in Ohio.  As I described in more detail at the law & econ prof blog a few weeks ago, Prof. Merritt's study has, ahem, merits.  It's a great snapshot of struggling graduates in Ohio, people who deserve our attention and support.  The trouble is that the Times story reports these findings as though they told us something about the national law job market.  Merritt's new data are all in Ohio, which may be a systematically different legal market than many others.  Nonetheless, the Times story reports Merritt's findings as though they were representative of the whole country (and also describes the study as "published," when in fact it's an ssrn working paper).  Most troublingly, the Times reports Prof. Merritt's conclusion that "the 2010 class had not recovered in the ensuing years" without any caveats. 

Update

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/04/ny-times-burdened-with-debt-.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

@Publius Novus
"About 20 percent of law graduates from 2010 are working at jobs that do not require a law license, according to a new study, and only 40 percent are working in law firms"

I read that as 60% total employment, no?

Posted by: jon | Apr 29, 2015 6:44:48 PM

If "About 20 percent of law graduates from 2010 are working at jobs that do not require a law license . . ." does that mean 80% are working at jobs requiring a law license? What is missing here? If 80% are working at jobs requiring a law license, that would mean the 2010 grads are employed in JD-required jobs at a far higher rate than the historical average. This MUST be an error.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 27, 2015 11:53:46 AM

Seto's pitch has long been that perhaps biglaw firms "should" think about changing their hiring practices I.e. focus more on the lesser ranked schools, in light of preparedness and relative success in making partner, and i think he's on to something.

BUT, until firms actually make the shift, if your goal is biglaw, you'd be a fool to attend any law school that does not place at least 1/3 of its class there right NOW, and you'd be wise to incur as little debt possible so that when the firm goes belley up, merges, has layoffs or pushes you out in 10 years when you fail to make partner, you aren't upside down and can consider a wide range of alternative career choices...

Posted by: Anon | Apr 27, 2015 11:20:25 AM

Praise Jebus. Five years ago I was playing Jacob Marley to everyone who I could reach regarding the danger of law school.

It's nice to see that I am no longer the only catcher in the rye.

Posted by: terry malloy | Apr 27, 2015 9:11:41 AM

"Parents across the country will be fearing that if their kids go to law school, they will be back living at home at 27 mired in $150,000 of debt. They will warn against it, and withhold financial resources if necessary."

Good, this is a very realistic fear. People deserve to not be defrauded.

Posted by: anon. | Apr 27, 2015 9:06:16 AM

No. 1 most emailed NYTimes article. Another huge blow landed. Parents across the country will be fearing that if their kids go to law school, they will be back living at home at 27 mired in $150,000 of debt. They will warn against it, and withhold financial resources if necessary.

Posted by: JM | Apr 27, 2015 8:33:54 AM

It's interesting to watch the counterattack of the - well denialists. I think that Paul Campos' analysis of the general 'walking slowly backwards' pattern of denialism [1] missed the fact that in the short term, there will be counterattacks.

[1] He didn't compare law school denialists to Holocaust denialists; those who claim this are dishonest - and are law school denialists.

Posted by: Barry | Apr 27, 2015 6:30:30 AM