Blinded Law Students…Or Are They?

Now Slate is tackling the law school conundrum in its article, “A Case of Supply v. Demand.” The article discusses the paradox of the surge of J.D.s, up 11.5 percent since 2000, at a time when the number of legal jobs have decreased by about 7.8 percent in the last few years (contrasted with the 5.4 percent drop in total number of jobs). 

It’s gotten to the point where there’s a real student backlash, with numerous law students going public to censure their schools, through blogs, the courts, and with one Boston College third-year even pleading for his tuition back if he withdraws without a degree. As he notes, “This will present no loss to me, only gain: in today’s job market, a J.D. seems to be more of a liability than an asset.” 

Harsh words, but do they ring true? We’ve covered ad nauseam the crumbling legal job market, and law schools’ thus far successful attempts at obscuring this information in order to draw in more applicants. But how long can these potential law students be kept in the dark? 

Surprisingly, it doesn’t matter. As reported by New York Lawyer, Veritas Prep found in a survey that only 4% of prospective law school applicants would not apply “if a significant number of law school graduates were unable to find jobs in their desired fields.” 81% of respondents would still apply, while 12% would wait until rates improved. Nevertheless, 63% admitted their concern about finding a job post-graduation. It seems that either these applicants still highly value a legal education regardless of their career prospects, or they’re overconfident that they’ll be the minority who will finish law school with a BigLaw job waiting for them. 

Even the Dean of Admissions at Yale Law thinks a reality check is in order. As she writes in her admissions blog, “These are tough times out there, and while law school might be a great place to hide out for three years, those three years will end… If you’re inclined to take some time to think about where you want to go, this is the time to explore your options: practicing law can be fun, rewarding, and potentially lucrative, but only if your heart is totally in it.”

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