Law Schools Grow as Jobs Shrink, Producing Irate Unemployed Lawyers

  • Print.

Law schools awarded more than 43,000 J.D.s last year, an increase of 11.5 percent since 2000, even as the legal job market was contracting.

Law schools are producing more lawyers than America needs, and many of the jobless grads are irate and vocal, Slate reports. “They’ve got a point,” the publication says. “The demand for lawyers has fallen off a cliff, both due to the short-term crisis of the recession and long-term changes to the industry, and is only starting to rebound. The lawyers that do have jobs are making less than they used to. At the same time, universities seeking revenue have tacked on law schools, minting more lawyers every year.”

The story cites these statistics:

• Between 2007 and 2009, the number of would-be law students taking the LSAT jumped 20.5 percent.

• The number of people employed in legal services has fallen from 1.196 million in June 2007 to 1.103 million today.

• The National Association for Law Placement reports that 88.3 percent of 2009 law graduates had jobs, but the number can be misleading. About a quarter of the jobs were temporary, and another 10 percent were part-time. Many jobs were funded by grants or fellowships provided by the law schools.

• Two-hundred law schools have ABA accreditation, an increase of 9 percent in the last decade.

•Average salary figures skew high because of $160,000 starting salaries for BigLaw associates. “And then there are the rest of jobs, which generally pay between $45,000 and $60,000,” the story says.

Above the Law notes the Slate article and advises its readers to check it out, although it doesn’t cover new ground. “This way, when your erudite Aunt Lizzie—the one who reads Slate, listens to NPR, and brings a recyclable tote bag with her to Trader Joe’s—tells you at Thanksgiving about this fascinating Slate piece she just read, saying that there are too many lawyers and law schools, you’ll know exactly what she’s talking about.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.