Is law school still attractive?

November 1, 2011
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Let’s face it – it’s not the best time to be coming out of law school. The students who just graduated got in just as the economy was beginning to take a nose dive, and those who are in school now have seen the prospect of getting a job after school decrease. Last year was the worst job market for law school graduates since the mid-1990s, according to the National Association for Law Placement.

This is reflected in a recent survey by law school admissions consulting firm Veritas Prep which found 68 percent of prospective law students said they’d still apply even though a lot of recent graduates haven’t been able to find jobs in their desired field. Just last year, 81 percent of those surveyed said they’d still go to law school.

The survey revealed that most were concerned with finding a job to help pay off the large amount of debt they’ll accumulate while in school. Student loans are a growing concern among prospective and current students because if you don’t have a job, you can’t pay it back. Who wants $70,000 or more of student debt (and that’s not even counting undergraduate loans) hanging over your head while unemployed?

In the Oct. 26 issue of Indiana Lawyer, reporter Jenny Montgomery talked to students around the state about how they feel regarding jobs and loans. Several of them are optimistic that they’ll be among the lucky ones to find a job after graduation.  Many are worried about how they’ll pay their massive amounts of debt.

“People are freaking out,” said Ellen Winterheimer, a 3L at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis. “I think people are more concerned about paying off their loans, because at this point, we’re overqualified for certain jobs, but underqualified for a lot of legal jobs that are requiring three years of experience.”

Something else that jumped out to me in Montgomery’s story is one student said many lawyers tried to discourage her from attending law school. It reminded me of when I was deciding whether to major in journalism and several people in the profession semi-jokingly told me to look for another major. But I think they were serious.

Law students – if you could do it all over again, would you have still gone to law school? Would you have waited a few years to see if the economy rebounds? Practicing attorneys – what would you say to students who ask you if they should go to law school?

  • Re law school
    Compared to my other profession - classical symphonic music - the law profession seems vigorous! I can't think of better, more flexible or adaptable training than we derive from a law degree. Perhaps one needs to examine the essential reason to go to law school (or medical school); making big money might not be the best initiator now! However, service still is important perhaps even more so in troubled times as these.
  • Not a Good Investment...
    And that's not just true for outgoing grads. I actually have right around 3 years of full-time experience, and it's been a long time since I was able to have full-time work. Based on job statistics, it's clear that a large number of law school grads will not be able to find work. Yet no one ever thinks they will be in that number. I know I never thought I would be. I went to a top national law school followed by a top national firm where I worked my tail off. I did everything I knew to do to earn job security. And yet here I am.
  • No way
    If you want to work hard, mess up your physical and emotional health, pile up on the debt, and find no decent job prospects upon graduation, and be treated like a leech, law school is for you. There already too many lawyers for fewer job openings. Financially, law school makes no sense. If you are going for the sakes of knowledge, by all means have a go at it, but just know that it's going to cost you a lot.

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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.