Saturday, May 8, 2010

Law and Supply and Demand

I have been telling students who seek letters of recommendation for law school for years that supply and demand were out of whack.  This article does a good job of discussing the trends.

It is almost as applicable to Canada, as the costs are far lower, but the prospects have to be nearly as bleak.  Students always claim that there is a niche of law that is under-served, but they are fooling themselves.  Three years of doing incredibly boring work for a limited prospect of a decent job and a stack of debt?  The only thing worse is doing five to seven years of very interesting work for a limited prospect of a decent job--which would be grad school.

Both law school and graduate school are ways of avoiding the present job market and hard choices about what to do with one's life.  But both can be costly in money and time.  I am now seriously considering restricting for whom I write letters of recommendation.  The complication is that a master's degree is much more important up here.  So, I guess I can continue to write heaps of letters for MA programs (the second worst part of the job with grading taking the lead), while discouraging students from seeking PhDs and law degrees.  You might ask what alternatives exist in this nasty job market, and I would again simply point out the financial costs and opportunity costs of 3-7 years of more education.  Depressing, certainly. 

HT to Brandon for point out the article cited above.

1 comment:

Vincent said...

I agree with the general point that law school is a pretty risky (and boring) choice these days. But to me, that graph actually suggests there was steady demand for lawyers until the recent financial crisis (of course we would need more data points to know for sure). With unemployment rising, employers in all sectors of the economy must have been getting way more CVs than usual, while being able to offer less new positions. That seems pretty consistent with the story told by the graphs you posted.