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More on Law Jobs -- or Lack Thereof

Our post here Monday, A Cold Slap for Law Students, discussed that day's Wall Street Journal report on the sad state of the legal job market, Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers. While some commentators seemed surprise by the report, I was not. As I wrote, "Frankly, there is no news in reporting that the majority of lawyers earn modest salaries and that for many getting by is a struggle." Now I see that my colleague here at Legal Blog Watch, Carolyn Elefant, agrees. Writing at her My Shingle blog, she said of the report, "I can't understand why this is news to anyone."

But legal-placement consultant Stephen Seckler, writing at the blog Counsel to Counsel, sees it differently. While not disagreeing outright with the WSJ piece, he says it may overstate the case. He offers law students this reassurance:

"Most law school graduates do find legal employment and most are able to meet their debt obligations without living in poverty. More importantly, any one individual only needs one job. While it may be a tougher to find your place if you don't have the academics, you can still be successful if you work at it! It just may take a little longer and require a few more steps."

At his blog Adam Smith, Esq., Bruce MacEwen reads between the lines of the WSJ article and concludes that the real story is in the legal profession's split into parallel job markets. "There's a BigLaw market and there's a non-BigLaw market," he says. "They are two separate markets, bifurcated, that do not speak to one another." It is what the blog Empirical Legal Studies called a dramatic example of bimodal distribution, pointing to an NALP study charting the camel-like distribution of lawyer salaries. The NALP chart shows one hump for lawyers who top out at under $50,000 and another hump for their well-paid counterparts at large firms. MacEwen agrees with those who say law schools should be more up front about the job market, urging them to take a cue from securities law, which teaches: "You can do anything -- so long as you disclose it."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 26, 2007 at 03:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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