Paul L. Caron
Dean



Monday, May 18, 2020

Simkovic: Legal Occupations Prove Resilient During COVID Shutdowns

Michael Simkovic (USC), Legal Occupations Prove Resilient During COVID Shutdowns:

CoronavirusInternational efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus have come at heavy economic cost.  According to figures recently released by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. national unemployment rates have spiked from less than 5 percent to more than 14 percent as of April 2020, reaching the highest level since the Great Depression. ...

Legal occupations have proved remarkably resilient and currently have the lowest unemployment rate of any category tracked by the BLS.  Unemployment for legal occupations reached only 3.7 percent in April of 2020.  Unemployment rates for lawyers are likely even lower because legal occupations include lawyers as well as occupations that typically have significantly higher unemployment rates than lawyers, such as paralegals and other legal support workers.  In the first quarter of 2020, these non-lawyer legal occupations had unemployment rates around 2.3 to 2.5 percent, compared to 1.1. percent for lawyers.

To be clear, unemployment has increased in legal occupations—just not by as much as it has increased everywhere else.

For complete TaxProf Blog coverage of the coronavirus, see here.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2020/05/simkovic-legal-occupations-prove-resilient-during-covid-shutdowns.html

Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

I saw the same working at a pricey event venue during the 2008 crash. Other businesses cut back, law firms still had money to burn. Kinda irritating. Resilient isn't really the right word. Law firms are more like an insular monopoly. If X sues Y, the Y has to fight back whether they can afford to do so or not.

Posted by: Mike Perry | May 19, 2020 9:33:19 AM

Obligatory notices that:

1) The BLS definition for lawyers does not include the thousands of law school graduates who never become lawyers because there aren't enough lawyering jobs for them. This has ranged between 30% and 45% of law school grads for the last decade.

2) The unemployment rate for law school grads, per those pesky required ABA Form 509 disclosures, was still around 8% ten months after graduation for the class of 2018 - the most recent for which we have data. In other words, around twice as high as the American workforce overall, despite that only about 3/10 people in that workforce possessing any manner of college degree.

3) As anyone who regularly reads this site or other legal news offerings, bar exams are being cancelled and law firms are cutting their hiring. This year will be a bloodbath for graduates.

4) As we now know from tax data provided by the Department of Education, the median law school grad starts out around $53k, not whatever fairy tale figures the NALP and certain law profs who have staked their claim on the worth of a law degree pretend that the median is. $53k is actually less than what NACE claims the average starting salary is for four-year college graduates across all majors.

5) If you don't think there will be attempts to triage the trillions in unexpected debt the government has taken on this spring by axing GradPLUS and IBR plans, you are insane.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 19, 2020 9:53:32 AM

Unemployed Troll:

If you disagree with the subtance of this article, namely the job prospects for the legal profession in the middle of the pandemic, why don't you cite some recent data, not stuff from years ago?

Why don't you cite anything, ever?

Posted by: MM | May 20, 2020 6:19:42 PM

Hi MM,

That is the most recent data available. I've given the sources already: BLS, ABA Form 509s, Dept of Education College Scorecard tax return-derived income information. All sources that are discussed on this site and in these threads all the time, as it happens. As this is a website for lawyers, law professors, and tax professionals, if you think I'm wrong about the data, feel free to present contrary evidence. Otherwise you are the one that's trolling, i.e. being argumentative without any substance or evidence to back up your bluster. Toodles.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 23, 2020 11:36:03 AM

UN --
The article is about the resiliency of law firms in the wake of COVID-19. Thus, it is beyond silly to try to rebut its claims by reference to stats and putative definitional shortcomings that long predate the virus.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | May 26, 2020 9:23:08 AM

M. Petrik:

He doesn't care. He just likes to read what he's typed, no matter how redundant and irrelevant.

Posted by: MM | May 26, 2020 7:43:55 PM

UNE is correct that employment rates are lower for very recent graduates of academic programs than for experienced workers with the same level of education.

According to NACE, employment rates for recent college graduates with Humanities majors were around 50 to 60 percent in the class of 2018, and that was a year with a booming economy. Recent law school graduates look pretty good by comparison.

Posted by: Recent | May 26, 2020 7:59:10 PM

Recent: Like UNE, whom you may very well be under a different handle, "recent graduates" are not the legal profession, particuarlt with out-of-date information from 2018. So, you're just avoiding the central point of this article like he did.

Do you enjoy the petty little echo chamber?

Posted by: MM | May 29, 2020 5:59:27 PM