Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Texas Lawyer: Evidence Shows Most Lawyers Continue to Have Profitable, Fulfilling Careers, by Milan Markovic (Texas A&M):
The one reliable longitudinal study that has been conducted does not support the view of lawyers as miserable and debt-ridden. The After the JD study followed a representative cohort of law school graduates from the class of 2000 and found that the vast majority were satisfied with their decisions to become lawyers. Debt load had no effect on career satisfaction, and nearly half of the lawyers in the cohort paid off all of their debt by 2012.
Of course, the class of 2000 graduated into a better economy and paid less tuition than more recent classes. Nevertheless, while more rigorous longitudinal research is needed, the recession appears to have not impeded attorneys' long-term prospects.
The State Bar of Texas conducts an income survey of its nearly 100,000 members. The most recent survey was conducted in 2013 and provides median incomes for full-time lawyers by the number of years they have been licensed. The median income for lawyers in private practice who have been licensed for two years or less is $69,238. This figure rises to $99,152 for lawyers licensed for three to six years.
These lawyers began their careers in the aftermath of the recession, and their incomes will not plateau for many years. Some will transition to more lucrative in-house legal positions. Those who remain in private practice can also expect further income growth. The median incomes for all lawyers engaged in full-time private practice in Texas is $123,982. Lawyers who have been licensed for twenty-five years or more enjoy a median income of $172,825. ...
Of course, many lawyers do not work in private practice or in-house for corporations. Every career comes with some risk, and the disappointment of some new lawyers is all too real. Nevertheless, the legal profession has survived the recession, and the available evidence indicates that most lawyers continue to have profitable and fulfilling careers.
(Hat Tip: Gary Lucas.)