NALP: Life Still Sucks for Law Grads, No Hope Coming

By William Peacock, Esq. on April 29, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Doom. Gloom. The bubble went boom, leaving an economy, and a legal industry, with no room.

We'd hoped, prayed, and lit candles for the soul of the legal industry, but alas, if the prognostications of Jim Leipold, the executive director of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) are true, then there truly is no hope. Recent grads, and those to come, expect a career path as desolate and decayed as this molding bread city.

According to Elie Mystal at Above the Law, the state of the industry is this: everyone (young) is doomed except those who got into BigLaw five years ago, survived the bloodletting of 2009, and are now looking to move laterally. Not much of a surprise there, right? If you've lasted this long, and survived through the industry's fat-trimming, there's a pretty good chance that you are a knowledgeable attorney. For laterals on the move, the market is robust.

For the other 90 percent of young attorneys, well, you should've gone to medical school.

Now, for even more bad news: Half of the class of 2011 started out making less than $60,000 if they found work.

For the class of 2012, they're still assessing the carnage, but unemployment seems to be up 1.4 percent. Leipold doesn't expect happiness down the road either. Apparently despite record lows in application numbers, there are still new law schools set to open in the near future.

(There are a lot more depressing numbers over at ATL if you're into that sort of thing.)

Previously, after looking at the record low numbers of applicants and the "buyer's market" for applicants, I may have suggested that now is a good time to "buy low" on a legal education.

I'll hedge that statement a bit more now, as I was hoping, for the sake of my younger friends, that there would be a bit of an uptick in hiring.

Now is a good time to "buy low" if you can get into a top-14 school or if you can get a full or near-full scholarship (nail the LSAT!) and your life-long desire is to be an advocate for the tired, hungry, and poor.

Few among you will land jobs that pay enough to pay off loans within your lifetime. The only way to own your soul is to be debt-free in the first place.

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