The vast majority of our readers are members of the legal profession in some way — and whether you’re a prospective law student, a current law student, a young associate, or a partner, chances are you’ve all had similar worries about the future and its many uncertainties. Will you be able to find a job? Will you be able to pay off your loans? Will you even enjoy being a lawyer? One thing, however, is for sure: you’d prefer that your children not suffer the same vocational fate as you.
But when it comes to the other members of society, well, they’d just love it if their sons or daughters were to become a lawyer (or marry one). Despite what we know to be true in most cases, it seems that the people who pick up their phones to respond to survey questions have been left in the dark when it comes to the current state of lawyers and their livelihoods.
Take a wild guess at who thinks this career path is still the road to riches….
Lawyers.com recently surveyed 1,001 people, conducting interviews on landlines and cell phones in both Spanish and English. Given the heightened media coverage as to problems the legal profession is facing, the survey results were just plain depressing. Have parents not been paying attention?
Ignoring all the warnings that have been trumpeted from Above the Law to the New York Times, heedless of the spate of lawsuits that have been filed against law schools over their allegedly deceptive employment statistics, and paying no mind to the horror stories about young lawyers drowning in student loan debt, 64 percent of parents still “hope their children will grow up to pursue legal careers.”
These results are horrifying for some, but exciting for others. From the legal news blog of Lawyers.com:
“Being a lawyer means being a respected professional, and that’s something that parents want for their children,” said Larry Bodine, Esq., editor-in-chief of Lawyers.com. “Despite the tough economy facing the next generation, it’s exciting to note that nearly two-thirds of parents would be happy with a law degree in their child’s future.”
Is it actually “exciting” that nearly two-thirds of parents would be happy with a law degree and severe underemployment in their child’s future? There are other more appropriate adjectives that could be used.
The next bit of information gleaned from the survey revealed that perhaps this is a class problem. Eighty percent of parents making less than $25,000 want to push their kids into law school. Apparently information about the drastic changes in the legal profession wasn’t enough to stop low-income survey respondents from aspiring to hopes of grandeur for their children. On the other side of the coin, only 54 percent of parents making at least $75,000 want their children to grow up to be lawyers.
What this means is that while the information is out there, it’s not getting to the people who need it the most. Of course you hope that your children will be better off than you are, but no amount of bootstrap-pulling is going to make this profession better for your offspring. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the recession-reactionary changes in the legal sector will likely be permanent. Being a lawyer these days is a tough row to hoe, and if you’re hoping your children will be able to have a “rags to riches” story in the law, you should probably start fixating on another dream career for them.
Parents, you better pray your special little snowflakes do well in math and science classes. For what it’s worth, there’s really no such thing as unemployed doctors, but unemployed lawyers are plentiful.