As regular readers know, I have been on a mission over the past several years to encourage would-be law students to consider equally enjoyable employment prospects, such as being screamed at by that Hell's Kitchen buffoon for splattering a souffle, or acting as a lifestyle adviser and match-maker for Kim Jong-un, or even being a dance instructor for the trifecta of Wynonna Judd, Kirstie Alley, and Mark Cuban. Even a pessimist like myself didn't realize how bad things have become for law students, though.
Excluding jobs funded by law schools, only 55.1 percent of all 2012 law school graduates were employed in full-time, long-term lawyer jobs on Feb .15, according to the analysis by the law school reform group Law School Transparency.
That's 1.1 percentage points lower than the 56.2 percent figure cited by the ABA, which includes school-funded positions in the number of graduates holding full-time, long-term lawyer jobs, according to the analysis.
Moreover, a "devastating" 27.7 percent of 2012 graduates were either underemployed, meaning they were working in short-term, part-time or nonprofessional jobs, or not employed, meaning they were either unemployed or pursuing an additional degree, according to Law School Transparency's analysis.
The ABA data showed that 10.6 percent of last year's graduates were unemployed and seeking work, but didn't total up the number of graduates who were unemployed and underemployed.
The group's analysis of the data also shows that fewer than half of the graduates at 66 schools—one-third of all ABA-accredited schools—were working in full-time, long-term legal jobs; less than a third of the graduates of 11 schools, or 5.5 percent of total, were so employed.
Law School Transparency's Executive Director had some sound advice for lawyers to be.
"Law school is too expensive relative to job outcomes," he said. "If you plan to debt-finance your education or use hard-earned savings, seriously think twice about attending a law school without a steep discount. For the vast majority of prospective law students who have not received a sizable scholarship, it makes sense to wait for prices to drop."
Or it makes sense to think about medical school. Or, save the costs of post-graduate education altogether and latch on to one the fastest growing job segments in the country: "cost estimator." If graduating law school students had devoted more time to cost estimation (and benefits) before they borrowed money to go to law school, many of them would not be facing the bleak prospects currently staring them in the face.