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Employment After Law School: The Cold Truth

It’s ugly out there. That’s the cold, hard truth for recent law school graduates looking for jobs. Sure, some still get the six-figure starting salaries with prestigious firms, but most don’t.

And you likely won’t either.

Stings a little, doesn’t it? But if you’re in law school, it’s nothing you haven’t already heard. The rumblings of trouble in the bar started shortly after the economic meltdown of 2008 and they’ve only built to a resounding crescendo since. In fact, competing for a job with a top law firm these days resembles a bar fight more than anything.

According to the American Bar Association, only about 62 percent of the 46,776 students who graduated from law school secured full-time, long-term employment in jobs that required them to pass the bar—and only 18,545 were with law firms with two or more lawyers.

Ouch.

So what do you do? You’ve already committed at least a year of your life to one of the most challenging, frustrating and masochistic endeavors anyone could ever dream of. You’ve put personal plans on hold. And you’ve likely incurred a significant amount of debt.

It’s too late to quit, so what do you do? You shift your paradigm, that’s what. You stop listening to other people. Forget about the perceived prestige and impressive paychecks lawyers receive. Redefine “success.”

The legal industry has changed (what industry hasn’t) since the Great Recession. Clients want more for less. Technology is taking over. Big Law has lost its luster.

Which means it’s the perfect time for you make a move.

Stop thinking about the way lawyers worked in the past and start thinking about the way they’ll work in the future. What industries are you interested in that are poised to take off—and how can you use the knowledge you’re gaining in law school to be a part of it (as a lawyer or in another capacity)?

A J.D. isn’t just useful for people who want to practice the law. It demonstrates critical thinking skills, work ethic, professionalism and the ability to achieve something that the vast majority of other people can’t. How can you use it to differentiate yourself from the pack?

Even within the legal profession, there are and will be opportunities. Think about what areas of law will be in demand—then tailor your career trajectory toward those areas.

Or, you could plan on being part of the bar fight.

 

This article was written by FindMyLawTutor.com.

Visit us at www.findmylawtutor.com for Help with LSAT Practice Problems and Tutoring, Law School Admissions and Assistance, and Bar Exam Preparation. Our website matches LSAT, Law School, and Bar Tutors with students and legal study materials– Providing Law Students with Help with Legal Exams.

 

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3 thoughts on “Employment After Law School: The Cold Truth
  • This was so on point! It’s one of the best articles I’ve seen that tells it like it is, for real! Thank you for writing.

    I graduated law school in 2010 and no one was hiring. So I decided to create my own path to success, which began by taking a chance on a Working-Holiday visa overseas in New Zealand and canvassing Auckland for a firm in my field of interest. I found one that was happy to have an American come on board for a bit and I gained valuable international legal experience and made some life-long friends during the year.

    When I came back to the US in 2011, the economy was getting better but still in flux and the legal world was still trying to find its way. I hemmed and hawed at what to do. After all, I was in significant student loan debt and, although I had a great analytical and writing skill set, I couldn’t figure out how to apply it to an industry outside of law.

    So I fell back on my “before-law-school” skills: Psychology, Nannying, and Tutoring. I was really good at working with kids of all ages struggling in school. As I would sit with these students helping them with their homework, I realized there was a lot more going on here: a learning difference, behavior concern, social skills need, or family dynamic concern. I started putting my law school research skills to use and found that what these kids most likely qualified for was an IEP, which would provide learning services at school and funding through the state. My sister, who is a Speech Pathologist and never has to worry about not having a job, encouraged me to pursue my digging with the caveat that schools don’t like to give away money and it will be an uphill battle. My legal brain was excited. Maybe I could put some of my ADR skills to use too.

    I began walking parents through this difficult and emotional process of how to receive state funds and advocating on their behalf at district meetings and appeals. My legal skills gave me a leg up and I finally felt that my law education was being put to good use.

    Three years after I graduated from law school, I formalized my new endeavor in the education law world and Founded Terry Tutors, a One Comprehensive Support Service for Struggling Students. I am proud to be an Education Advocate for Special Needs and owner of my own small business.

    After law school, it was scary out there because the stability that I had sought no longer existed. I had to create my own job, but I couldn’t have done it successfully without my legal education.

    Looks like law school made a difference after all.

    Christine Terry, JD
    http://www.TerryTutors.com

  • admin says:

    Ms. Terry,

    Thank you so much for your comment. It is unfortunately the cold, hard truth that the economy is not what it once was for lawyers and the legal field in general. However, we do hope that students will read this and tailor their careers with an eye for creativity rather than what used to be defined as success. Congratulations on making your own legal career a hit!

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