I'm not saying don't do it. It's great if you can get in to UW-M. Just don't look for a job in Chicago. I went back to a recently formed-firm's website I applied to last year and here's who they hired.Here's an ad from the very top of the employment and classifieds section of the Colorado Bar web site:
Here is the original job posting:
Suburban litigation firm located in Illinois seeks a
licensed attorney with 0-1 years of commercial litigation and/or
business transaction experience.
Here is who they hired:
Northwestern Univ. JD (top ten school)
10 yrs experience at Sidley Austin (top five international law firm)
Clerk for federal judge
That's the reality of the market. I hope it works out for you.
Among the many things we need more information on is the reality of the legal market now for people who have been in the profession for five and ten and twenty years. The disproportionate focus on first jobs out of law school is a product not of some methodological choice but of the fact that this data, as flawed as it is, is what's available. To the extent we have data on longer-term outcomes it's largely from two sources: profession-wide statistics regarding how many people are working as attorneys relative to how many people graduate with law degrees, and indirect evidence from the outcomes for entry-level attorneys when they try to obtain supposedly entry-level jobs.Appellate ServicesExperienced Appellate AttorneyColorado Attorney with 30+ years of experience available for APPELLATE WORK AND LEGAL RESEARCH, Very Reasonable Rates contact Donald Brenner (303) 321-5459 Posted 03/30/2012
Regarding the former, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 212,000 jobs will become available for attorneys over the course of this decade, mostly as a result of replacement rather than growth. If the number and size of ABA-accredited law schools remains the same, that means 48% of law graduates this decade can be expected to get (not keep, get) a legal job, if we employ several unrealistically optimistic assumptions, such as that 100% of these jobs will be filled by people who graduate from such schools over the course of the decade, rather than by previously unemployed lawyers, graduates of non-accredited schools, and foreign attorneys.
The BLS projections also produce a daunting relationship between the 35-year ABA law school graduation total and the total number of people expected to be working as attorneys in 2020. The latter number is 801,000. The former is just over 1.6 million. So over the course of a generation law schools will have managed to overproduce attorneys, or rather potential attorneys, by a two to one margin, and, given the BLS projections, that ratio will will become worse every year going forward. (The BLS data and projections are bolstered further by the fact that a granular look at the annual NALP data suggests that less than half of recent graduates are getting real legal jobs).
If you think all this implies strongly that ABA-accredited law schools ought to be producing about half as many graduates now as they're currently producing, you're right. What I would be curious to hear is any argument as to why the number ought to be significantly higher than that. I'll anticipate a couple of replies that don't seem convincing to me.
(1) Big law business cycle arguments. As a structural matter attorney overproduction in the United States has very little to do with the ebbs and flows of big law firm hiring, which despite the enormous attention that's given to it accounts for only a small percentage of the attorney employment in the American legal system. So whether big law hiring bounces back to the levels of five years ago has very little to do with the answer to the question of how many graduates law schools ought to be producing, given that for quite some time now schools have been cranking out two graduates for every job, roughly speaking, and the ratio appears to be getting worse going forward.
(2) Versatile law degree arguments. It's to say the least very unclear whether having a law degree is a net positive for job seekers who don't get legal jobs -- so much so that we can't say with any confidence that, for such graduates, law school would be worth it even if getting involved no direct or opportunity costs. In other words for those who don't get jobs as lawyers, a law degree might well not be worth getting even if getting it were truly cost-free.
(3) Education for its own sake arguments. To put it in crass economic terms, it's possible in theory to model legal education as consumption rather than investment. In theory. In practice it can be a form of conspicuous consumption ("my son/daughter the lawyer"). I'm willing to bump the "rational" number of law graduates by 10% above the likely number of jobs available to take into account the trustifarians and their ilk. So that means 23,000 grads per year rather than 21,000.
Of course there's the minor detail of exactly how we're going to get from here to there.