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Law Admissions Down ~16% for 2014

mmigliommiglio Alum Member
edited February 2014 in General 122 karma
To: Everyone in the 7Sage community.

As some/most of us may know, law school numbers are down desperately. We all know that this is going to, most probably, lower the accepted GPA and LSAT scores across the board, and extend admissions deadlines.

However, what does the drop in law school students say for those of us that plan on being lawyers?
What are your educated thoughts? (Please be as credible as you can, so we don't get any completely unrealistic responses that take us off topic.)

I'm thinking there's two possibilities here.

The poor economy and panicky articles over the past 2 years has effectively scared a large amount of 0Ls from pursuing a career in law because they fear that the employment opportunities and average wage are not worth taking on between $100k-$250k in debt to attain a JD.

1) They are right, the law field is a bad place to be, and we are all entering a very insecure field. For most of us, entering law school may be a bad choice.

2) They were wrong, the bad economy and panicky articles were overdramatized, and due to the very large drop in admissions and, therefore, class sizes through law schools, most people who are trying to attain a JD NOW as opposed to later are going to ride a wave of success due to the increase in demand for lawyers. Likewise, the decrease in lawyers is going to have more schools accepting a wider variety of GPA/LSAT scores, increasing our odds at placing into the school of our choice, or a school we would usually likely not be eligible to attend.


  • zhenderszhenders Free Trial Member
    edited February 2014 228 karma

    Sorry, but there's just no argument here. The increase in demand for lawyers isn't here. Law firm growth rates are down. Just over 55% of the national 2012 class found full-time legal employment after graduation. The "panicky articles" are actually by and large realistic, well-sourced statistical analyses of the current law climate, many published in highly respected places.

    It IS an insecure field. That doesn't mean the law field is a bad place to be though -- it means a law school with low placement rates is a bad place to be.
  • rbleal007rbleal007 Alum Member
    4 karma
    I would like to add, JD degree/or job opportunities are just like "most" other professions! I was a criminal investigator in 2009-2010 looking for work and there were a lot of jobs out there. However, in 2012-2013, there were very few job opportunities. If you have a passion for law and "know" this is what you want to do, than statistics shouldn't matter. What is the statistics for job satisfaction?
  • Ruby SohoRuby Soho Monthly Member
    106 karma
    I totally agree with rbleal007

    Like rbleal007, I have been in the real workforce....which helped me to realize law is what I want to do. I have a passion for it. The outlook on the job market has no impact to me wanting to go to law school.

    Actually, maybe a horrible job market for lawyers is a really good way to filter those who want to become a lawyer for financial gain only. Maybe only those who really want to study law and make a difference will apply to law school because of the bad job market.
  • ENTJENTJ Alum Inactive ⭐
    3658 karma
    @sweetxoxo: I am in the same boat as you. My argument is your argument.
  • zhenderszhenders Free Trial Member
    228 karma
    Ladies and gents, I just don't understand your logic :-/ law ISN'T just like the rest of the market! Name another profession that costs over 150k (sometimes MUCH more) for your education and has such a huge chance of leaving you without a job?

    GO to law school if you are passionate-- but don't be ignorant of the data as they are. MANY people who are undoubtedly passionate about being a lawyer have not/did not find lawyering work after graduation. This info isn't on the Internet to try to get you to quit on a dream -- law school transparency exists, because so many people said, "I have the dream of becoming a lawyer!" And too many schools have told them in return, "come to our school, give us your money, and you will get to live your dream!". And those students oftentimes come out the other end overwhelmed by debt with zero success in the jobs market.

    If you want to spend 40k in loans to get your undergrad in English like I did, then who cares if you end up as a barista? I, on the other hand, you are 200k in debt and forced to work as a barista because the promised jobs never arrived even after endless searching because the market is supersaturated, then suddenly the real purpose of law school transparency et al. -- to protect people from possibly ruining their lives with insurmountable debt forever -- makes sense.
  • zhenderszhenders Free Trial Member
    228 karma
    I'm not a downer on this. Live your dream -- just please be careful and make certain you are making a wise investment. Get that killer LSAT so that a scholarship can mitigate the risk, or so that you have the option to go to schools with very high job placement ratings.
  • Ruby SohoRuby Soho Monthly Member
    edited February 2014 106 karma
    Hi zhenders,

    I understand your argument; but respectfully disagree in one aspect.

    No one, regardless of their undergrad major or graduate degree, should go to school and think:

    "This piece of paper will guarantee me a job doing xxxxxx and will guarantee I make at least xxxxx."

    We all know the type of person who goes to school and feels entitled to be paid a certain amount and have a certain title. However, that person is failing to account for several factors:

    1. Its not what you's who you know.

    2. The power of being able to network and get your self out there! A person who hustles their @ss off to join and actually participate in professional organizations (outside of school) during their three years of law school will have built an awesome network.

    3. The "riches are in niches"; meaning when you choose a career, law or otherwise try and narrow down your focus area. While in law school, I would try and be super involved and focused on the particular area of law I am interested in....however I would not limit my self to the schools resources.

    4. I think way too many people depend on the school to do everything for them (in terms of a job). sent out 500 resumes. But what else did you do? Did you wait until your final year of school to try and network? Are you relying on your summer internship for a job after graduation...bad idea to me.

    5. Law schools owe you nothing but an education and a chance to take the bar. Once you pass the bar you are a professional. Meaning, you don't have to rely on anyone to "give" you a job. If your dream is to help people, why not take on small domestic violence cases? could practice out of Starbucks if you had to. The awesome thing about being a lawyer is you don't have to wait for anyone to GIVE you a job. You can create your own job, create your own lane for opportunity.
    6. Seasoned employers can smell a self entitled graduate a mile away
  • mmigliommiglio Alum Member
    122 karma
    It seems like some, or many, of you may be older and more experienced than I am.

    I am passionate about being an attorney, I do want a job, I would like 70k or more starting.
    I don't know anyone. I'm graduating from my undergrad this May. I'm trying to start law school this August.

    I was looking at making it into George Washington University, because I read somewhere that they have very high employment rates and a great program on intellectual property law.

    Is there something that I might be overlooking? Is there a really good reason to wait a year, or to go into a specific area of law?

    The thing I like about the IDEA of being an attorney is that it can allow me to be a source of knowledge to help others, and a functional, respectable member of society that has both security and power.

    Am I being duped, though? Is this degree not worth $150k+ to go out of state and attend a top 25 law school? Is there really no need for lawyers, and if that's true, do you think there's room for new firms?
  • Ruby SohoRuby Soho Monthly Member
    106 karma
    So I guess...the question is...what is a law degree worth? I totally agree tuition prices are insane.

    I guess you have to go into knowing you could potentially go in debt $100K with no guarantee as to what your salary will be.

    Just like anything, you have to decide what is right for you. Can you accomplish your goals by going to a cheaper law school...or going to a lower ranked school with scholarship money?

    I heard someone once say, "Do you know what they call a person who graduated from the bottom of their class from the worst law school in America. The person is called a lawyer."
    If its your dream to go to GW then you should totally go for it (in my opinion)!

    Maybe I am naive, but I believe if you go after your dream and pursue your passion...everything will fall into place.

  • zhenderszhenders Free Trial Member
    edited February 2014 228 karma
    It just doesn't work out that way for so many. There are so many very disheartened dreamers out there who chased (and are still chasing it) without success.

    sweet, It isn't that I disagree with your fervor -- it's just that with law, the data just don't support that. The jobs are going to graduates from prestigious scools in the middle or better of their classes. I'm not making this up; it isn't my opinion as to how it should be, nor is it simply the opinion of some law school slackers who are bitter about their lack of success. This is the reality.

    The things that you describe above can rightly be considered necessary conditions for successful employment -- but they are by no means sufficient in the market today. No matter how you look at it, debt in the 150k+ range is debilitating for someone making anything less than 70 or 80k/year, and jobs that pay this not only are not guaranteed -- they are downright difficult to get.

    This shall be my final post on the matter; for all of you reading these, don't take anyone's word for it here; do your own searches -- deep, detail-oriented fact-based searches. You owe it to yourself one way or another -- either to absolve yourself of doubts and prove me wrong, or to make yourself aware of the potential hazards.

    Best of luck to you all in your pursuits; be careful. Make educated decisions, and make smart investments.

    Edit: Caveat. Your number 5 is dead-wrong. One of the big things that all of you should inquire about with respect to the schools you are considering is, "how much job placement support do you get from the job placement department (which all respectable law schools have)?" YOU ARE PAYING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. They sure as hell DO owe you some help in seeking employment -- you just gave them a quarter of a million dollars.

    Good schools support you in this way, because not only is it ethical, it helps the school keep their employment numbers high. If a school has a reputation for shitty job placement assistance, write it off as a diploma farm unless it has other qualities which strongly stand against this.
  • Jaguar007Jaguar007 Free Trial Member
    114 karma
    Why are you guys saying 150 k are you from the US tuition here is about 15-20 a year!
  • zhenderszhenders Free Trial Member
    edited February 2014 228 karma
    Jaguar, that's wonderful it's so inexpensive wherever it is you are (I assume Canada). Yes, it's that expensive here in the states. After COL, it's this expensive for almost all schools; before COL, many schools' tuition alone is this much or more.

    scroll down; there's a chart that shows the mean tuition rates for American law schools from 1999 to 2012; the average (average!) in 2012 was over 40k annually.
  • Alum Member
    3 karma
    I agree that a lot of people put their trust in a graduate school education to further themselves financially, but the truth is that anyone can go to school in today's age. It's a very saturated system that leaves a lot of people in the dust even after a four year degree. Even a bachelor degree isn't enough to keep up with the competitive market. You need to do your homework and understand that you better be in the top of your class at your tiered school and plan on networking in that particular region of the country for jobs. It has grown increasingly competitive over the past ten years and you have to be the best at your trade to be marketable to employers. Be smart with your loans and don't be mediocre. Understand that you are a product and you need to be able to out shine the other folks gunning for your position. Be versatile. What makes you stand out above the rest? Carry yourself well and don't just market yourself as some run-of-the-mill lawyer looking for a paycheck.
  • Ruby SohoRuby Soho Monthly Member
    106 karma
    @zhenders: Totally agree, law schools should totally ASSIST with the job search..but this should not be the resource students rely on...although many do.

    You are right, tuition is expensive (including books, COL, plus the fact you will not be working full time while in law school unless you go PT).

    However, this is why everyone must do their own research. If your passion and dream is to attend law school and become an you really need to pay $150K at a private school...or can you complete your goal by attending a public / State law school and pay $60K (sticker)?

    Personally, for me, I don't mind attending a cheaper state school for $60K.

    I'm sorry, but I don't feel law school owes you a job paying a certain salary.

    I think a good question to ask is: Is there a true difference in the education you receive at a $150K school vs. $60K school?

    Also, do you think....really bad law schools attract really bad students and this results in bad employment #s.

    Do you think the typical person who attends a diploma mill school is super motivated, personable, self starter and knows the importance of networking? For some reason, I don't think this is the typical student at one of these schools (not saying ALL students...of course there are exceptions). You are so right about making yourself standout to employers. Employers want someone who will bring something to the table. A law degree doesn't guarantee anything; employers want you to bring something to the table besides a degree.
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