We've all read the "scam blogs" accusing law schools of ripping off students, lying to prospective applicants and abandoning alumni. Much of the focus of these blogs has been on reporting the truth about employment prospects out of law schools. But, despite not having "real" employment statistics, by now pretty much everyone considering law school has heard about , the largest of which is being saddled with six-figures in student loan debt without any job prospects. So why do would-be lawyers keep applying in droves? Do they know something we don't?
Not likely. Moreover, one thing we do know and they don't is what the Class of 2010 has to say about their job offers--or lack thereof. From survey responses from thousands of law students across the country, we've pieced together the following harsh truths:
4 harsh truths about 2010 law school job prospects
- Schools at every prestige level are more regional than they were before. Even students from top 10 schools may have trouble finding jobs far away.
- You will not get a law firm job without being a summer associate at that firm. So start working on getting that spot now, not when on-campus recruiting starts in the summer/fall of your second year. Now.
- Career centers still haven't quite figured out how to get students nontraditional jobs. You're going to have to do most of the work on your own. And the saddest of all:
- If you don't go to a top 25 school, your job chances are even lower than you thought they were.
While NALP (National Association for Law Placement) reported that about 88 percent of law school grads had jobs at graduation during these tough times, only 60 percent the Class of 2010 told Vault they had (or would have) a job offer at graduation. And when you break out those 3Ls by school, the realities of the current legal job market become even more glaring. While top 25 law schools have an 86 percent job offer rate for the Class of 2010, once you expand that list to the top 50, the rate immediately drops to 69 percent. And schools below the top 50 had only 47 percent. That's right, less than half of the non-top 50 law school students we surveyed would not have jobs at graduation. But does that mean you shouldn't go to law school if you don't get into a top-top school? Not necessarily. If you've always dreamed of becoming a lawyer, do it! But know that you will have to work extra hard to reach your goals. It's important to approach law school with eyes wide open. The worst case scenario (tons of debt, tons of unemployment) will likely continue to be a danger for the next few years.
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