This article on the ABA Journal News website discusses the issue of law schools failing to disclose the dim job prospects to students. The article states:
While those at the very top of the starting salary scale might earn $160,000, the median among all lawyers is $60,000. So, for those in the middle of the pack, "if you have debts over $100,000, some reaching $150,000, it will be very difficult to pay that debt," he says.
David N. Yellen, dean of Loyola University Chicago School of Law and chair of the ABA subcommittee that considers what consumer information law schools should be required to report, tells the Law Bulletin that law schools need to be more transparent about job prospects.
"I believe the time has come to mandate that law schools publicly disclose more information about job outcomes," Yellen is quoted saying.
If $60,000 is the nationwide median salary for lawyers, then the median in Mississippi has to be lower. And job prospects for lawyers are at an all time low.
Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear a rumor about layoffs at a big or medium size firm, get a phone call about a lawyer looking for work or hear a story about a former law grad delivering pizzas. Just yesterday I was looking up a lawyer on a Jackson based firm’s web site. I was shocked to see how much smaller the firm was than 5–10 years ago. The firm has shrunk down to the point where most of the lawyers were at the firm 15 years ago.
I’m starting to get the feeling that many Mississippi lawyers who graduated from law school in the late 90’s and early 2000’s during the mass joinder litigation boom have disappeared. I have no idea where all the lawyers who were working in Mississippi litigation ten years ago—but aren’t now—went to.
Meanwhile, I heard recently that the Mississippi College Law School just increased the size of its first year class. They should be shrinking their classes instead of growing them. MC Law School is not alone on this issue. But law schools are such profit centers for schools that they will not do the right thing on this issue.
For many people, starting law school in this legal economy is a sucker bet. I can understand it for people who really want to be a lawyer and are willing to suffer to make it happen. But that applies to what? 10% of a first year class at the most? Everyone else is there because they are smart enough to get in and don’t have a better idea for what to do after college.
People might be better off going to a trade school after college. If you learn a trade, are good at it and can succesfully run a business, you probably have better income prospects than a lawyer right now. Not to mention the fact that many lawyers hate practicing law.