Almost 85 percent of law school graduates of the class of 2012 will take 9 months to find employment, according to the Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP). For five straight years the employment rate has dropped for legal professionals. It has seen a steady decline since its all time high of 91.9 percent in 2007. Was this a law school bubble? The general state of the economy and the local and regional demands for this particular line will grow or shrink the industry respectively. Of course this will immediately impact the prospects and the time that graduates will take to find a job. A situation like this can seem counterintuitive. According to the Dayton Business Journal, James Leipold, NALP executive director found some positives in the statistics, noting the total number of jobs filled was greater than in recent years.
“It is important to understand that the job picture is improving, if only slightly. This class found more jobs in private practice than the previous class. But because the national graduating class was so much bigger, the overall employment rate continued to fall.”
At the University of Dayton School of Law the 9-month employment rate for the class of 2012 was 81.5 percent, while for positions that prefer law degrees the employment rate was 70 percent.
An industry that had been growing in these past few years when most industries were drying up, receiving bailouts, or shipping jobs overseas, law seemed to be a life buoy for prospective students who wanted to make their current crushing debt load of student loans translate into future potential earnings. In other words they wanted a high return on investment. I can’t blame them. US News ran an article recently that listed the best and worst ROI by college major. In these times with an ‘official ‘ unemployment rate of around 8 percent it completely makes sense that students who will spend $200,000 or more for schooling want a decent return for their investment of time and money. Gone are the days where $40,000 will cover the costs of your undergraduate education. That is almost a paltry sum and it can be written off and depreciated as a debt over time in one’s mind.
Students nowadays are taking on a debt load as much as $200,000 or more. Someone in my circle of friends is taking on twice that much. No one would blink at such a sum as it’s all too common. But now we aren’t talking tuition fees, we are discussing investments. Prospective law students would do well to consider their situation from every possible angle, including industry assessment, personality assessment, and return on investment.