The legal employment market saw a small downturn in July, losing 800 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The loss is narrower than June’s loss of nearly 4,000 jobs but was again somewhat countercyclical, since the private sector as a whole added a small number of jobs (overall job loss in July was primarily due to the loss of jobs among temporary census workers).
Steven Harper, formerly of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and now teaching at Northwestern University Law, has a very good post on his blog discussing the growing “mentoring gap” at what’s affectionately (or not) known as “Biglaw.” He notes structural factors that have decreased the attention to mentoring and training at major law firms since he began his practice some thirty years ago.
Beginning next Monday, July 26, I’ll conduct a week-long LSAT preparation and application advising workshop at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. This will be the 13th consecutive year I’ve done this. As in the past, I’ll be donating my services (students pay a little to cover travel and other expenses; there's sometimes a little left over, which goes to non-profits).
Summer Associate Hiring Down Dramatically, with Little Indication of Prospects for Next Summer: What Does It Mean for Law School Students?
The AmLaw Daily yesterday released the results of its survey of summer associate hiring for 2010. It’s not surprising that, of the 114 law firms that responded to the survey (many firms did not), summer associate hiring was down 44% from 2009. That’s a considerably sharper decline than had been indicated in some prior press, but is the most reliable number we’re aware of.
There’s been a lot of press, some of it here and on our website, about the continuing rise in law school applications at a time when the economy and the legal market are troubled. There’s always been a mismatch in linking current applications and the current legal market; after all, for entering law students, the first key benchmark for the state of the legal employment market is their second year of law school. The current economy isn’t necessarily a great proxy for that future market, it’s just the basis on which one makes reasonable assessments of what that future might hold.
I used to get a lot of my news from Captivate elevator screens. Then I thought I’d add Twitter. For some things, those sources really are better than The New York Times. Lately, I’ve noticed the thrill that many prospective law students in Twitter nation experience when a law school offers them scholarships. I see why—in addition to being a welcome relief from bruising law school tuition costs, it’s also felt as a validation that all the hard work that students have put in to get to law school has paid off. So it’s great. What could possibly be wrong?
The ABA Journal reported this week on a new nonprofit, Law School Transparency, which sent a request to law schools to provide comprehensive employment data. An admirable objective but I’m not holding my breath waiting for law schools to respond in a meaningful way.
What’s Missing in All the Analysis of the Legal Employment Market and the Advisability of Entering Law School
A few days ago, Above the Law blogger David Lat, taking on critics of the wisdom of attending law school in the current market for legal hiring (including other Above the Law bloggers), gave a fairly full-throated defense of the continued value of attending law school.
Sometimes you don’t want to be right. In late June, I ran a post on law school grade inflation. I made two points. First, recent changes by law schools in their grading systems likely would not have the desired effect of expanding their graduates’ employment opportunities (why grade inflation didn’t matter). Second, the retooling actually risked hurting graduates of those schools over the next several years (why it did matter). Essentially, law schools were asking their current and near-future students to take all of the risk of educationally irrelevant gamesmanship.
The National Law Journal reports that the number of law school applicants rose 3% this year. That’s actually not a bad number if you’re one of the applicants; it’s a lot better for you competitively than the reported 20% increase in LSAT administrations last fall might have led you to expect. And the increase is less than the 5% increase in applications in 2009, compared to 2008.
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