University News

With downturn, some grads reconsider law

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Graduating from college and getting into law school used to be a sure path to a lucrative job. But with thousands of law school graduates entering a shrinking labor market each year, job prospects are growing dimmer.

Kathy Do ’12, co-president of the Pre-Law Society, said the job security associated with a law degree is “very shaky right now.”

“Everyone is kind of reconsidering,” she said. After reading about the difficulties of getting jobs in law, she decided to consider other options and now plans to work for a few years before entering law school, she added.  

Ross Cheit, associate professor of political science, said the oversupply of lawyers and the tough job market are a larger concern for students who attend less prominent law schools, whereas most Brown students attend first-tier schools.

“The demand for Yale Law School graduates doesn’t really change with the economy,” he said.  

“It’s generally true that it’s not as lucrative as it used to be,” said George Vassilev, director of pre-professional advising. “But it’s important to put everything in its proper context.” The demand for lawyers is lower now than in previous years because of the business cycle, but earning a legal degree is “still one of the better options out there,” he said.  

Data collected by the Office of the Dean of the College show that the dimming market for lawyers does not significantly perturb Brown students. The number of students and alums applying to law school only slightly decreased from 306 in 2009 to 264 in 2010. There have also been no significant fluctuations in the numbers of students and alums admitted to law schools, Vassilev said.  In 2010, 85 percent of applicants from Brown were accepted into law school, compared to the national average of 69 percent.

Though the current job climate should not dissuade students from considering law, it should encourage them to “think through their options” even more carefully, Vassilev said. Pursuing a law degree “can be quite costly and doesn’t promise you the moon,” he said. When students meet with pre-professional advisers, they are also asked to consider a Plan B, he said.

Ultimately, jobs are declining not only in the legal field, but in the economy as a whole.

“It’s no secret that the job market isn’t ideal right now,” said Anna Samel ’12. “I’m as concerned as any other graduating senior.”

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