Indeed, given that cost explosion, it would seem more obvious than ever that people who aren't going to spend most or all of their professional careers as lawyers generally shouldn't go to law school. This raises the difficult issue of what the lost generation -- the people who have graduated from law school over the past three years -- ought to do now. The available data, poor as it is, suggests that more than half of this cohort doesn't currently have real legal jobs (permanent full-time employment requiring a law degree). Here's an email I received a couple of days ago from a graduate of a second-tier law school, who finished in the top third of his class:
As a recent law graduate, I have to ask as food for thought - is there anything we can do to mitigate this situation of massive debt with little work opportunity? Is there any sort of damage control that we can do? I know this is a big question, but every time I try to refine it down it starts to get too personal to me. But I need some sort of idea of what I can do right now to try to improve things - join the military? Pursue a graduate degree in my original field (engineering)? Throw myself in front of a car? I know a fair amount of my class are still completely unemployed and as the November deadline for the beginning of loan repayments approaches I'm starting to feel the need to make any sort of money now. And, I feel like the most recent classes (2010 and 2011) are facing some unprecedented issues - instead of not making as much money as we were promised we're completely frozen out of the legal industry altogether - it really might be a lost cause for a lot of us even if we did well in law school - so.... are there any ideas as to what comes next?
P.S. I really do understand that this is a big and vague question - if you want any more information from me I'm happy to give it - I just did not want to bog down a stranger with my personal problems. But at the same time I know that half my class, the half that doesn't have jobs, are all trying to figure out what we can do to salvage our lives.
P.P.S. I had one more question I had wanted to ask - what are your thoughts on LLMs? I know several of my classmates who didn't find jobs ended up enrolling in those programs to put off doing nothing/postpone when debt is due, but I don't know whether or not it's just throwing more good money away with bad (since I would have to take loans for it as well). Some lawyers have told me that only tax LLMs are useful, meanwhile this site http://www.llm-guide.com/
Well? Keep in mind that in terms of a combination of law school attended and class rank this person is better off than at least three quarters of the national graduating class of 2011. Forward-looking reform efforts are crucial, but what about the perhaps 75,000 law school graduates (with an average law school debt of around $100K) from just the last three years who are in something very much like this person's position? Are we -- here I am mainly addressing my fellow law school faculty and administrators -- just supposed to forget about them now, and wish them better luck next time? And what is their next time supposed to be?