Lawschool 2019
May 16, 2019 5:51 AM   Subscribe

How's law school in 2019? I don't know any lawyers so I figured I'd ask here since Askmefi helped me out a lot in the past.

I've read all the older asks tagged law school but wondering if there have been any new updates? No, not going to law school but wondering if the economy ever recovered in the USA.
posted by chrono_rabbit to Education (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
The legal market is better at the top than it has been for a while, yes. Law school is still expensive, although you can get a better scholarship with worse stats (LSAT, GPA) than you were able to for quite a while.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:54 AM on May 16


As has been the case for many years, there are two markets for new lawyers: About 15 percent go to Biglaw and make close to $200,000; the bulk of the others start at around $50,000.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:13 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the higher-end market has rebounded and is what I am talking about.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:14 AM on May 16


Hi, I'm a lawyer who graduated law school right after the crash in 2008. I went to a top 20 school, watched my classmates have their Biglaw offers rescinded, and many of my other classmates had to leave the field because there is no work. Things are a little better now, but not a lot. I am a fully employed attorney and struggle to pay both my rent and my loans.

Check out Subprime JD for more about the economic realities of law school.

My very serious advice about this is, do not go to law school unless you have to do it to be happy. If you can be happy doing anything else, go do that thing. Law school is a ton of debt to take on for what you'll be told is a lot of job security but isn't.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:43 AM on May 16 [14 favorites]


^^^yes, and the question of whether you should go to law school is really different from the super-general question of whether or not the law market has rebounded.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:45 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Hi, I'm a lawyer who graduated law school right after the crash in 2008. I went to a top 20 school, watched my classmates have their Biglaw offers rescinded, and many of my other classmates had to leave the field because there is no work.

If we’re talking just Biglaw and the pool of law students who would have gone into Biglaw absent the crash, that market has rebounded to where it was before, but no one ever came back for the 2-4 classes of law students who got screwed during the crash. So there’s sort of a “lost generation” of law school students from the top schools / top of their classes at lower ranking schools who are still struggling to get a foothold, in part because of lot of these students would have used Biglaw jobs to pay off debt quickly and then vault to other (lower paying but more rewarding or more life-balanced) legal careers, and their lack of entry into Biglaw messed up their ability to do that.
posted by sallybrown at 7:03 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


There are fewer applicants, especially at lower ranked schools, so it is easier to get in. Definitely not cheaper though.

One really tough thing about going to even at high ranking law school that currently puts 50-60% of its graduates into high-paying biglaw positions is that if you decide to go now, in May of 2019, you can start law school in August of 2020, and then have your one really good shot at making $190,000 to start during 2L on-campus interview season, which would be in 2021, to get a job that doesn't even start until fall of 2023, which you would probably need to stay in until fall of 2026 or so to pay back your loans and develop the skills necessary to land a job you'd actually want to keep for the long term. If the legal economy sours before any of those dates, you might lose the chance to do any or all of those things, forever. None of us knows how long it will be until the legal market takes a downturn, or how long that downturn will last, or how severe it will be. But given the chance, I'd definitely bet there's a significant downturn sometime before 2026.
posted by skewed at 8:24 AM on May 16 [10 favorites]


If the legal economy sours before any of those dates, you might lose the chance to do any or all of those things, forever. None of us knows how long it will be until the legal market takes a downturn, or how long that downturn will last, or how severe it will be. But given the chance, I'd definitely bet there's a significant downturn sometime before 2026.

In addition to an economic downturn, the legal market specifically is likely to be increasingly disrupted by the adoption of AI-based tools that allow fewer attorneys to do more work faster. This has already happened with a lot of low-level legal work (e.g. document review), and the next generation of tools are targeting higher-level work. The end result will be a considerably smaller job market for attorneys in general but especially at the large law firms that can really benefit from the economies of scale that these tools provide.

If you compare the NALP statistics for the class of 2010 [pdf] to the class of 2017 [pdf] (the most recent year for which stats are available), you can see some trends:

Total Grads
2010: 44,258
2017: 33,500 (a ~24% decrease!)

Employed in Private Practice
2010: 18,329
2017: 16,390

Employed Full Time in a Job Requiring Passing the Bar
2010: 25,654
2017: 23,906

Employed in a Firm of 500+ Attorneys (NB: employed in any capacity)
2010: 3,750 (20.5% of grads employed at a firm)
2017: 4,610 (28.1% of grads employed at a firm)

Employed at a Firm (of any size) as an Attorney:
2010: 15,440
2017: 14,461 (NB: combining associates and staff attorneys)

When looking at these stats, bear in mind that while large law firms are hiring lots of graduates (in fact an increasing share of graduates since 2010), this is in part driven by law firm consolidation: big firms are where the jobs are because mid-sized firms are disappearing. And perhaps more importantly: it's all well and good to get a job at a large law firm making ~180k+ in your first year, but there is an ever-shrinking number of large law firm associates who go on to become large law firm partners, especially equity partners. The long term career prospects aren't what they used to be.

Finally, while the market may have improved in some ways, the actual practice remains pretty miserable, and large law firms continue to have huge sexual harassment and diversity problems.
posted by jedicus at 9:45 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


There are fewer applicants, especially at lower ranked schools, so it is easier to get in. Definitely not cheaper though.

Scholarship support for applicants with the same stats (meaning GPA and LSAT) is way, way better than it was back in (say) 2010. Source: I got a full ride plus stipend offer from a school ranked about 50 spots ahead of the school that wouldn't give me a full ride plus stipend back in 2010.

In other words, if you have good LSAT/GPA you can pay less at a better school than you would have at the peak of the over-inflated law school market. If you are not as attractive as a candidate then you will be paying a lot. So it is cheaper for well-credentialed people but that is highly specific.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:02 AM on May 16


I work in the legal profession. I was told that local firms are beginning to hire summer associates again for the first time in a decade, so that's a good sign.
posted by tacodave at 4:43 PM on May 16


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