To the Left Behind Law Graduates
People like to say timing is everything. I’m often tempted to call out this remark by suggesting that the cliché is merely a reactionary observation. I try to consider myself a forward-thinker, so it’s not an adage that offers me any guidance in life.
I could say, for example, that my decision to enroll in law school in Fall 2006 was awful timing. Graduating in Spring 2009, my class was one of the first to enter the legal market following the burst of the U.S. housing bubble.
Far too many of my colleagues graduated without legal jobs. Far too many others begrudgingly accepted low paying positions just to have a legal job. It wasn’t what they signed up for.
The classes of 2010, 2011, and 2012 haven’t had it any better. Actually, it has probably been even worse for them. Yet, for the past few years, law school tuition around the nation has steadily increased. (UPDATE 8/21/2012: According to this article, the average tuition for law school this fall will rise by more than double the rate of inflation.) It doesn’t add up.
We’re looking at another bubble. Others intimately closer to the situation than I am have written extensively about it. University of Colorado Law School professor Paul Campos launched Inside the Law School Scam. Wash U. in St. Louis Law School professor Brian Tamanaha published Failing Law Schools.
Change to the system is coming. Good change, for example, that prevents schools from disguising employment statistics in order to convince naïve college seniors into believing that law school is a still a golden ticket.
Hopefully, these changes will generate a far higher overall utility for those involved in law school education going forward. Unfortunately, the classes of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and likely 2013, 2014, and 2015 are left behind.
Wait, so timing is everything, right?
Accept the reality of the situation. We can’t give our degrees back. And we’re not getting our money back. Law school is no longer a golden ticket, simple as that.
Back to the first sentence of this post. Timing is something, but not everything. Those who often put themselves in a position to capitalize on seemingly fortuitous opportunities know that there’s much more to their success than timing.
Those struggling to find quality legal jobs need to consider approaching the matter more unconventionally. There are hundreds of others equally as qualified and jobless or underemployed. Continuing to follow the conventional methods will produce the same lack of intriguing opportunities.
Problem is, I haven’t come across substantial commentary on how the left behind can work towards creating these opportunities. I wrote some initial thoughts a couple of months ago. It’s a start, but much remains to be said.
No one has all the answers. Collaboration is key. Whether it commences here, on a far more popular blog, on Twitter, or at Reddit, it doesn’t matter. I’d be happy to share ideas with people willing to listen and offer critical insights. Let’s get this going.