This thread on TFL provides a sobering glimpse into what's happening to both the legal academic hiring market and the market for high-status and otherwise desirable non-entry level lawyer jobs (BigLaw mid-level or senior associate, DOJ/USA/Federal agency jobs, cush in-house gigs with big companies, and so forth).
Long story short: lots of people with golden credentials are doing Visiting Assistant Professor gigs, striking out in the increasingly brutal academic market, and finding that they don't have the option to return to their old jobs or indeed anything similar to their old jobs. The reasons will come as no surprise to anyone who has had much in the way of contact with the contemporary market for lawyers: openings for the kinds of jobs most VAPs had are scarce, and it's an extreme buyer's market.
Hiring partners are generally suspicious of people who tried to bail for academia, are often openly contemptuous of the law school world, and usually have little interest in taking on expensive senior associates with no book of business. Government hiring is either completely frozen or extraordinarily selective at both the federal and state level, and if anything desirable government jobs are now even harder to get than big firm positions. Good in-house positions are coveted by top associates at elite firms, who are in a far better position to get them than itinerant quasi-academics on the lam from BigLaw. Etc.
All this produces But I Did Everything Right syndrome on steroids: people with HYS law degrees, appellate court clerkships, several years of experience at V-10 firms, etc. etc., are finding themselves looking at flat-out unemployment, and are coming to the horrifying realization that, in this business of ours, a formerly golden resume starts spoiling faster than a plate of sashimi left out in a tropical sun. (Some current law professors will be finding this out first-hand soon enough).
Adding to the angst in the VAP world are the realization that taking a job with a low-ranked school may well be a prelude to even more intractable unemployment a few years down the line; that, leaving aside the inherent risk of such jobs, lots of low-ranked law schools shouldn't exist anyway; that some VAP programs are functionally exploitative, in that they produce very little chance of getting a tenure-track job anywhere while extracting cheap teaching resources for academic hopefuls; that it's routine for people in the latter circumstance to have vastly superior entry-level credentials to those the senior faculty at the schools they're at had when they were hired in the palmy days when the Police were the hot new band; and that a career dedicated to successfully crafting a perfect resume can easily crash and burn for reasons completely beyond one's control.
Needless to say this spectacle is producing waves of schadenfreude among the legal precariat, and a growing sense of dread among all but the most purblind law professors, who realize we are increasingly becoming this generation's version of what a 50-year-old autoworker with an upper middle class salary and great benefits was back when the Police were a hot new band.