You will be lucky to get a job at all.
LOL, OK, the most important different types of lawyers are the employed, underemployed, and the unemployed. Actually, with the proliferation of law schools and lowering of standards the degree will be as esteemed as a truck driving school certificate. A lot of law schools admissions policy is if you got the dough, or are willing to take on debt, you can go. Look at Massachusetts School of Law and Appalachian Law School in Virginia for examples, it is a joke, they should have truck driving academies right next to their schools. You would not see those low standards at a dental or medical school. Some people talk about doctors being sued and high malpractice insurance, do not let the medical profession fool you, doctors and dentists make the most money in our society even after paying for their malpractice insurance. If you eliminated med-mal suits it would have little or no impact on the affordability and accessibility of health care, the docs would just pocket the extra money. By the way I have sued lawyers for malpractice but never a doc/dentist, I look forward to it.
I am an attorney. However, I went to a top 15 school and had mediocre grades. I found the job market to be depressing. So much time, planning, and money went into undergraduate school, I had a 4.0 GPA, and scored above the 95th percentile on the LSAT, 171. I naively thought going to a top school their would be plenty of lucrative and exciting jobs waiting for me and I would be set to have a good quality of life. I remember sending out 300 letters one time and getting no positive response, either they said some nonsense about you are great, you have good accomplishments, but at this time we cannot offer you a position, we will keep your resume on file. I took the Bar Exam in two states wasting time studying and not earning any money. I had to move back in with my parents, fun. Meanwhile many of my friends and people that I knew from High School and College were establishing themselves in their careers and making money, gettng promotions, etc. I worked post-law school as a car salesman and a mortgage broker. Finally, a family friend had a friend who was a solo attorney, I worked for him basically for free, actually it was negative because I spent money on travel, long distance phone calls, etc., still living at home with mom and dad, saddled with law school debts, the student loan people started calling wanting $$$. Eventually, I left that attorney. I struggled to find another attorney job. I got a job in 2003 at a firm paying the princely sum of $25,000 per year. I moved out of my parent's house but was still subsidized by them. Dad kept threatening to cut me off, but I lived in an expensive state the cheapest place to stay I found was $1,500 a month all inclusive. My paycheck was like $430.00 a week take home. Eventually, I did go solo, it was hard, but I did make some money in real estate closings for 3 1/2 years. Now the real estate market stinks and I have no income, and I am trying to plan my next move, which may be back to my parents temporarily. I have interviewed for some associate positions and the salary range was 38k-55k, this is pretty low for someone with 5 yrs experience and a doctorate degree. My wife works at a nail salon, as a manicurist, she took a three month course and makes 50K a year. It has been an exquisitely painful road for me. In my family I am the most educated and the least financially secure. My dad makes like $350,000K engineering+MBA degree, my younger sister makes $165,000K a year psyche degree and an MBA. My conclusion, LAW SUCKS!!!!!!!!!! Too many law schools fighting for tuition $$$, night programs, weekend programs, low academic standards, too many attorneys, lowering wages and limiting opportunities, compare to the AMA and ADA that insure a shortage of dentists and doctors. When I was solo it seemed like everyone was an attorney, or their cousin was an attorney, or their sister's friend was an attorney, or their brother was an attorney and so and so on, I lost a lot of business because of this. I do not think doctors and dentists face such client poaching. If you are in the top 5%, law review, and went to a good school, yes, you will probably get a good job right from the start. I would have been better off not going to College and instead picking up a trade like being an electrician. Heck, if I had all the money I wasted on education, worked at a gas station during all my non-earning years and put the money into a CD I could probably be able to retire. Looking back, if I had to do it again, if you want to through the hard work and invest the $$$ for education so it pays off you should go into healthcare. Heck their is a shortage of pharmacists and their median wage is $98,000K well above lawyers. Dentists 180,000K median and their is a shortage. Oh well this sucks but this is my life and I will deal with it, I spent my educational time and $$$, and the dye is cast.
From US News, Poor careers for 2006
By Marty Nemko
Attorney. If starting over, 75 percent of lawyers would choose to do something else. A similar percentage would advise their children not to become lawyers. The work is often contentious, and there's pressure to be unethical. And despite the drama portrayed on TV, real lawyers spend much of their time on painstakingly detailed research. In addition, those fat-salaried law jobs go to only the top few percent of an already high-powered lot.
Many people go to law school hoping to do so-called public-interest law. (In fact, much work not officially labeled as such does serve the public interest.) What they don't teach in law school is that the competition for those jobs is intense. I know one graduate of a Top Three law school, for instance, who also edited a law journal. She applied for a low-paying job at the National Abortion Rights Action League and, despite interviewing very well, didn't get the job.
From the Associated Press, MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A lawmaker who persuaded the Assembly to eliminate all state funding for the University of Wisconsin law school says his reasoning is simple: There's too many lawyers in Wisconsin.
From an ABA study about malpractice claims, More Sole Practicioners: There appears to be an increasing trend toward sole practicioners, due partly to a lack of jobs for new lawyers, but also due to increasing dissatisfaction among experienced lawyers with traditional firms; leading to some claims which could have been avoided with better mentoring.
New Lawyers: Most insurers have noticed that many young lawyers cannot find jobs with established firms, and so are starting their own practices without supervision or mentoring. This is likely to cause an increase in malpractice claims, although the claims may be relatively small in size due to the limited nature of a new lawyers
“In a survey conducted back in 1972 by the American Bar Association, seventy percent of Americans not only didn’t have a lawyer, they didn’t know how to find one. That’s right, thirty years ago the vast majority of people didn’t have a clue on how to find a lawyer. Now it’s almost impossible not to see lawyers everywhere you turn."
From a recent Wall Street Journal Article, Hard Case: Job Market
Wanes for U.S. Lawyers
Growth of Legal Sector
Lags Broader Economy;
Law Schools Proliferate
By AMIR EFRATI
September 24, 2007; Page A1
A law degree isn't necessarily a license to print money these days.
For graduates of elite law schools, prospects have never been better. Big law firms this year boosted their starting salaries to as high as $160,000. But the majority of law-school graduates are suffering from a supply-and-demand imbalance that's suppressing pay and job growth. The result: Graduates who don't score at the top of their class are struggling to find well-paying jobs to make payments on law-school debts that can exceed $100,000. Some are taking temporary contract work, reviewing documents for as little as $20 an hour, without benefits. And many are blaming their law schools for failing to warn them about the dark side of the job market.
The law degree that Scott Bullock gained in 2005 from Seton Hall University -- where he says he ranked in the top third of his class -- is a "waste," he says. Some former high-school friends are earning considerably more as plumbers and electricians than the $50,000-a-year Mr. Bullock is making as a personal-injury attorney in Manhattan. To boot, he is paying off $118,000 in law-school debt.
"Unfortunately, some find the practice of law is not for them," Seton Hall's associate dean, Kathleen Boozang, said through a spokeswoman. "However, it is our experience that a legal education is a tremendous asset for a variety of professional paths."
A slack in demand appears to be part of the problem. The legal sector, after more than tripling in inflation-adjusted growth between 1970 and 1987, has grown at an average annual inflation-adjusted rate of 1.2% since 1988, or less than half as fast as the broader economy, according to Commerce Department data.
Join a discussion on the state of the legal market.Some practice areas have declined in recent years: Personal-injury and medical-malpractice cases have been undercut by state laws limiting class-action suits, out-of-state plaintiffs and payouts on damages. Securities class-action litigation has declined in part because of a buoyant stock market.
On the supply end, more lawyers are entering the work force, thanks in part to the accreditation of new law schools and an influx of applicants after the dot-com implosion earlier this decade. In the 2005-06 academic year, 43,883 Juris Doctor degrees were awarded, up from 37,909 for 2001-02, according to the American Bar Association. Universities are starting up more law schools in part for prestige but also because they are money makers. Costs are low compared with other graduate schools and classrooms can be large. Since 1995, the number of ABA-accredited schools increased by 11%, to 196.
Evidence of a squeezed market among the majority of private lawyers in the U.S., who work as sole practitioners or at small firms, is growing. A survey of about 650 Chicago lawyers published in the 2005 book "Urban Lawyers" found that between 1975 and 1995 the inflation-adjusted average income of the top 25% of earners, generally big-firm lawyers, grew by 22% -- while income for the other 75% actually dropped.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the inflation-adjusted average income of sole practitioners has been flat since the mid-1980s. A recent survey showed that out of nearly 600 lawyers at firms of 10 lawyers or fewer in Indiana, wages for the majority only kept pace with inflation or dropped in real terms over the past five years.
The news isn't any better for the 14% of new lawyers who go into government or join public-interest firms. Inflation-adjusted starting salaries for graduates who go to work for public-interest firms or the government rose 4% and 8.6%, respectively, between 1994 and 2006, according to the National Association for Law Placement, which aggregates graduate surveys from law schools. That compares with at least an 11% jump in the median family income during the same period, according to the Census Bureau. Graduates who become in-house company lawyers, about 9%, have fared better: Their salaries rose by nearly 14% during the same period.
Many students "simply cannot earn enough income after graduation to support the debt they incur," wrote Richard Matasar, dean of New York Law School, in 2005, concluding that, "We may be reaching the end of a golden era for law schools."
Meanwhile, the prospects for big-firm lawyers are growing richer. While offering robust minimum salaries, those firms are paying astronomical amounts to their stars.
Now, debate is intensifying among law-school academics over the integrity of law schools' marketing campaigns. Defenders argue that the legal profession always has been openly and proudly a meritocracy: Top entrance-exam scores help win admittance to top schools where top students win jobs at top firms. Even the system that is used to issue law-school grades -- a curve that pits student against student -- reflects the law profession's competitiveness.
David Burcham, dean of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, considered second-tier, says the school makes no guarantees to students that they will obtain jobs. He says it is problematic that big firms only interview the top of the class, "but that's the nature of the employment market; it's never been different."
OK, I have to interject right here. Did a dean of a law school basically say you could go through all the nonsense of getting into law school, law school, ethics exam, bar exam and you should not expect some sort of gainful employment after you are through? You might as well go to Las Vegas and put your tuition money on the rouelette table and let it ride, you may have better odds of making money than going to his school and getting a decent paying law job. This guy is a jerk.
For the majority of students and alumni, he says, Loyola "turned out to be a good investment."
Yet economic data suggest that prospects have grown bleaker for all but the top students, and now a number of law-school professors are calling for the distribution of more-accurate employment information. Incoming students are "mesmerized by what's happening in big firms, but clueless about what's going on in the bottom half of the profession," says Richard Sander, a law professor at the University of California-Los Angeles who has studied the legal job market.
"Prospective students need solid comparative data on employment outcomes, [but] very few law schools provide such data," adds Andrew Morriss, a law professor at the University of Illinois who has studied the market for new lawyers.
Students entering law school have little way of knowing how tight a job market they might face. The only employment data that many prospective students see comes from school-promoted surveys that provide a far-from-complete portrait of graduate experiences. Tulane University, for example, reports to U.S. News & World Report magazine, which publishes widely watched annual law-school rankings, that its law-school graduates entering the job market in 2005 had a median salary of $135,000. But that is based on a survey that only 24% of that year's graduates completed, and those who did so likely represent the cream of the class, a Tulane official concedes.
On its Web site, the school currently reports an average starting salary of $96,356 for graduates in private practice but doesn't include what percentage of graduates reported salaries for the survey.
"It's within most individuals' nature to keep that information private, unless it's a high amount," says Carlos Dávila-Caballero, assistant dean for career development at Tulane, who adds that his office tells prospective students to use the median figure as a guide because starting salaries vary widely.
Academics who have studied new-lawyer salaries say that the graduate surveys of many law schools are skewed by higher response rates from the most successful students. The National Association for Law Placement, which aggregates and publishes national data based on those surveys, concedes that it can't vouch for their accuracy. "We can't validate the figures; we have to rely on schools to report to us accurately," says Judy Collins, NALP's director of research.
A prospective student studying NALP data might conclude that the study of law is a sure path to financial security. For 2006 graduates who entered private practice, or nearly 60%, NALP shows a national median salary of $95,000, a rise of 40%, adjusted for inflation, from 1994 graduates.
The NALP data also show that the percentage of graduates employed in private practice has been steady, fluctuating between 55% and 58% for more than a decade. But in law schools' self-published employment data, "private practice" doesn't necessarily mean jobs that improve long-term career prospects, for that category can include lawyers working under contract without benefits, such as Israel Meth. A 2005 graduate of Brooklyn Law School, he earns about $30 an hour as a contract attorney reviewing legal documents for big firms. He says he uses 60% of his paycheck to pay off student loans -- $100,000 for law school on top of $100,000 for the bachelor's degree he received from Columbia University.
A glossy admissions brochure for Brooklyn Law School, considered second-tier, reports a median salary for recent graduates at law firms of well above $100,000. But that figure doesn't reflect all incomes of graduates at firms; fewer than half of graduates at firms responded to the survey, the school reported to U.S. News. On its Web site, the school reports that 41% of last year's graduates work for firms of more than 100 lawyers, but it fails to mention that that percentage includes temporary attorneys, often working for hourly wages without benefits, Joan King, director of the school's career center, concedes.
Ms. King says she believes the figures for her school accurately represent the broader graduating class. She says the number of contract attorneys is "minimal" but declined to give a number.
The University of Richmond School of Law in the last couple of years started to be more open about its employment statistics; it now breaks out how many of its grads work as contract attorneys. Of 57 2006 graduates working in private practice, for example, seven were contract employees nine months after graduation. Schools "should be sharing more information than they are now," says Joshua Burstein, associate dean for career services who put the changes in place. "Most people graduating from law school," he says, "are not going to be earning big salaries."
Adding to the burden for young lawyers: Tuition growth at law schools has almost tripled the rate of inflation over the past 20 years, leading to higher debt for students and making starting salaries for most graduates less manageable, especially in expensive cities. Graduates in 2006 of public and private law schools had borrowed an average of $54,509 and $83,181, up 17% and 18.6%, respectively, from the amount borrowed by 2002 graduates, according to the American Bar Association.
Students taking on such debt may feel reassured by incessant press reports of big firms scrambling to hire and keep associates. Making headlines this year was a bump up in big-firm starting salaries to $160,000 from $145,000 in many cities.
And indeed, some law graduates of lower-tier schools do find high-paying private-practice law jobs. In recent years big firms have boomed thanks in part to the globalization of business and Wall Street deal making; firms have been casting a wider net for new lawyers, though they still generally restrict their recruiting at lower-tier schools to students at the very top of the class or on the law review. Some students have leads on a job at a family member's or friend's practice.
But just as common -- and much less publicized -- are experiences such as that of Sue Clark, who this year received her degree from second-tier Chicago-Kent College of Law, one of six law schools in the Chicago area. Despite graduating near the top half of her class, she has been unable to find a job and is doing temp work "essentially as a paralegal," she says. "A lot of people, including myself, feel frustrated about the lack of jobs," she says.
Harold Krent, Chicago-Kent's dean, said it's not uncommon for new lawyers to wait a few months to more than a year to find a job that's a good fit. He added that there is a "small spike" in employment after his school's grads receive their bar-exam results, several months after graduation, because some firms wait until then before hiring.
The market is particularly tough in big cities that boast numerous law schools. Mike Altmann, 29, a graduate of New York University who went to Brooklyn Law School, says he accumulated $130,000 in student-loan debt and graduated in 2002 with no meaningful employment opportunities -- one offer was a $33,000 job with no benefits. So Mr. Altmann became a contract attorney, reviewing electronic documents for big firms for around $20 to $30 an hour, and hasn't been able to find higher-paying work since.
Some un- or underemployed grads are seeking consolation online, where blogs and discussion boards have created venues for shared commiseration that didn't exist before. An anonymous writer called Loyola 2L, purportedly a student at Loyola Law School, who claims the school wasn't straight about employment prospects, has been beating a drum of discontent around the Web in the past year that's sparked thousands of responses, and a fan base. ("2L" stands for second-year law student.) Some thank "L2L" for articulating their plight; others claim L2L should complain less and work more. Loyola's Dean Burcham says he wishes he knew who the student was so he could help the person. "It's expensive to go to law school, and there are times when you second-guess yourself as a student," he says.
Some new lawyers try to hang their own shingle. Matthew Fox Curl graduated in 2004 from second-tier University of Houston in the bottom quarter of his class. After months of job hunting, he took his first job working for a sole practitioner focused on personal injury in the Houston area and made $32,000 in his first year. He quickly found that tort-reform legislation has been "brutal" to Texas plaintiffs' lawyers and last year left the firm to open up his own criminal-defense private practice.
He's making less money than at his last job and has thought about moving back to his parents' house. "I didn't think three years out I'd be uninsured, thinking it's a great day when a crackhead brings me $500."
See the problem is that we have this huge, growing, out of control population of lawyers, not unlike an animal population that gets out of control, the end result is famine.
--Mark Whitehouse contributed to this article.
Here is an example ad in Massachusetts for an experienced attorney, that mentions salary, it was posted this week. Most jobs don't state salary in the ad cause the pay is pretty low.
Office of the District Attorney, criminal attorney, for the Bristol County District seeks staff attorney for the Appellate Division. Excellent writing skills and a passion for appellate advocacy are a must. Salary $37,500. Preference given to candidates who live in or will relocate to Bristol County.
LOL, secretaries with no college can make more. What is even more sad is there will probably be like 50-100 lawyers that send in their resume for this ad.
Here is another attorney ad. They pay 35K-40K, yet they want someone with experience, multiple state admissions, and a writing sample. Oh, so sad.:
Small insurance defense firm seeks associate with 1-3 years experience. Admission to RI or NH bar a plus. The ideal candidate will have deposition experience, familiarity with billing and reporting requirements, as well as an ability to research and draft dispositive motions. Salary in the $35,000 to $40,000 range, dependent on experience. Please submit resume and writing sample to: LWP Box #161, 10 Milk St., Suite 1000, Boston, MA 02108.
Here is not an uncommon question posted on Yahoo Answers by someone that made the journey to find the harsh employment opportunities:
I graduated last Spring, took and passed the Maryland Bar, and am currently clerking for a judge. I have excellent academics, but no law firm or journal experience. I do have several years of non-legal work experience.
I've been sending out a few cold call cover letter/resume packets a day, plus responding to ads calling for less than 2 years experience in the local papers, bar assoc website, and even craigslist.
I still can't seem to get anywhere though. Any suggestions? Thanks for you time and thoughts!
Here is another post:
My bf just took the bar exam to become an attorney. He has posted resumes on yahoo, monster, craigs list, newspapers, etc. and just can't seem to find any work. Finally he decided to just apply for jobs like bank assistants etc. Interviewers would say he's too qualified for "rookie" positions, and he's "not qualified" enough for a lawyer position. Is there hope? Thanks.