Based on the comments to our last post, it’s clear that many of you want to talk about job opportunities — or the lack thereof — available to folks who aren’t at so-called “top tier” law schools (or who aren’t at the top of their class at non-elite law schools).
As it turns out, we have a good vehicle for such discussion. Check out this interesting National Law Journal article:
Despite news of record-breaking employment figures for law school graduates and first-year salaries of $160,000 at many top law firms, a significant contingent of job seekers — including those with strong credentials — are living a much different story after graduation….
But the eye-popping salaries are the reality for a small fraction of law school graduates, and all those stories of big money may be creating unrealistic hopes for the vast majority of law school students. Contributing to the situation is the effort by law schools to portray their employment numbers as robustly as possible to boost their ranking scores.
The upshot means dashed expectations for lots of graduates, many of whom are saddled with high debt as they struggle to start their careers.
The depressing discussion continues after the jump.
Some helpful facts and figures:
According to the latest information from NALP, the Washington-based nonprofit group that tracks legal employment, 90.7% of last year’s law school graduates were employed nine months after graduation, topping 90% for the first time since 2000. The total number of graduates for whom employment status was known equaled 40,186.
From that number 55.8% — or 22,424 — took jobs in private practice. NALP estimates that about 37% of graduates who go into private practice end up working for firms with 101 attorneys or more. Importantly, the vast majority of the firms paying first-year associates the much-publicized $160,000 have more than 500 attorneys.
The result is that about 80% of law graduates are not working in law firms with more than 101 attorneys, and, consequently, are making far less than the amounts grabbing all the attention.
The article contains the requisite tales of individual woe. Here’s one of them:
“I’m kind of stuck,” said a 27-year-old lawyer from Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law who moved to Chicago after she graduated last year. She did not want to reveal her identity out of a concern that doing so would hinder her job search.
Currently working for an in-house department at a large insurance company in Chicago, she graduated in the top third of her class, was a member of law review and participated in the school’s moot court competition. She has $70,000 in student loan debt, she said, and makes about $50,000 annually.
She sent out more than 100 résumés and letters before and after she graduated, she said. “I could get in the door; I just couldn’t land the job.”
Maybe she should sue AutoAdmit?
About that huge salary: It’s a longshot [National Law Journal]