#Lawschool grads: Is it more likely to have no job or a $160,000 starting job

Elizabeth Olson of the New York Times has written two interesting articles about law school graduates and the state of the job market. The article are independently interesting, but they really should be read together:

Article 1 – April 16, 2015

The article includes:

In the biggest legal markets — including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington — $160,000 is the most common salary at the largest firms that reported paying first years. Only about 60 percent of the largest firms with offices in Los Angeles and Washington said they paid the top amount now — a significant drop from 2009, when 90 percent of firms said they did so.

In New York, however, “the $160,000 starting salary is almost universal,” Mr. Leipold noted. About 85 percent of firms in the city with at least 250 lawyers are paying that amount; about 90 percent of firms with 700 or more lawyers paid first-year hires that amount.



Article 2 – April 26, 2015

The article includes:

Jonathan Wang has not practiced law since he graduated from Columbia Law School in 2010, but he did not plan it that way.

When he entered law school, the economy was flourishing, and he had every reason to think that with a prestigious degree he was headed for a secure well-paying career. He convinced his parents, who work in Silicon Valley, that he had a plan. “I would spend three years at school in New York, then work for a big law firm and make $160,000 a year,” said Mr. Wang, 29. “And someday, I would become a partner and live the good life.”

Mr. Wang, who works in Manhattan as a tutor for the law school admissions exam, is living a life far different from the one he envisioned. And he is not alone. About 20 percent of law graduates from 2010 are working at jobs that do not require a law license, according to a new study, and only 40 percent are working in law firms, compared with 60 percent from the class a decade earlier. To pay the bills, the 2010 graduates have taken on a variety of jobs, some that do not require admission to the bar; others have struck out on their own with solo practices. Most of the graduates have substantial student debt.

And finally, the article concludes with:

“I thought the LSAT tutoring gig was going to be a temporary thing, but five years and one bar admission renewal later, here I am,” he said. His business has greatly expanded and he makes over $100 an hour, but that is far below what he would make at a law firm. “I waffle constantly, but I’m still in the mind-set that I need to find a real job,” he said.

Come on, LSAT teaching is a “real job”! In tact, it’s a lot of fun.