I would read these horror stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post about how law firms were no longer guaranteeing jobs. But I always knew I was going to go to one of the top 14 law schools, where employment statistics have remained pretty strong. Most of the bad numbers are coming from the worse-ranked schools.

Emily Cusick, a senior at Cornell University and president of the pre-law fraternity Kappa Alpha Pi, commenting to the Cornell Daily Sun on doom-and-gloom stories about the legal job market.

(Additional interesting tidbits from the Sun article, including statistics about the declining number of law school applications, after the jump.)

The Cornell University campus. As they say, 'Ithaca is Gorges!'

Here’s how the Sun piece starts off:

The number of Cornell undergraduates enrolling in law school immediately after graduation has decreased 44 percent over the last five years, according to data released by the University’s Career Services Office.

In 2007, 5.9 percent of the University’s graduating class went to law school in the fall after graduation, while only 3.3 percent of the Class of 2011 attended law school the subsequent year, according to Jane Levy, senior associate director of Cornell Career Services.

I happen to think this is a welcome trend. I went straight through from college to law school, but I’d do things differently if I had to do them all over again. In my observation, law students who have done something else before matriculating at law school tend to enjoy and get more out of their legal education experiences than people who go directly from undergrad.

According to Richard Geiger, associate dean of Cornell Law School, the number of applications to U.S. law schools has generally declined over the last five years. Geiger said that he expects that this pattern will continue next year and that Cornell will follow the national trend.

“[Five years ago], national application numbers [were] about 85,000 applicants a year — that’s a rough number — and I’m guessing that the nationwide application number will be in the low 70,000s for this year,” Geiger said. “I would be surprised if we didn’t track with the national numbers.”

A declining number of law school applications could also be a good thing, depending on what’s driving the trend. I don’t know that I’d call it a good in and of itself (my colleague Elie Mystal might disagree), but if the dip is being driven by prospective law students putting more thought into whether they should go to law school (with some of them realizing it’s not the path for them), then it is a positive development.

My own view is that law school can be the right decision for many people, and I’ve written before in these pages in defense of going to law school. I just think that the decision needs to be a deliberate, well-researched, and fully informed choice.

Cornell Students Delay Legal Careers [Cornell Daily Sun]

Earlier: In Defense of Going to Law School


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