Fewer Students Enter Law Schools As Jobs Dry Up

Fewer Students Enter Law Schools As Jobs Dry Up



Horror stories regarding life after graduating from law school, from humiliating student loan debts to recent law school graduates serving beverages at Starbucks, have been heard by Tenia Phillips, an aspiring law student.

Nevertheless, these stories did not discourage the 27-year-old Waco, Texas, resident from chasing her childhood dream, even though it took her four years of working as an apartment leasing agent prior to joining fall classes at the University of Missouri law school last week.

She said, “I had gotten to the point in my life where it was either now or never. Nothing in life is guaranteed. The job market can go back up again or back down.”

The days when top law school graduates use to have their pick of six-figure careers at boutique firms, or at least be assured of putting their law degrees to good use, are over.

Post-graduate job rates are at the lowest levels in 15 years. A typical student graduates from school with almost $100,000 in debt.  And after a couple of years of recession-driven enrollment growth, applications to various law schools across the United States are down almost 10% this year.

The grim statistics prompted a lot of soul-searching in the legal academy, with some calling for schools to supply more precise job-placement data, as well as make efforts to admit a smaller number of students to prevent inundating the already overflowing legal market with more newly minted J.D.s.

According to Larry Dessem, University of Missouri law dean, “The sense that one can go to law school and get rich quick, that it is the lottery ticket— those days are well past.” University of Missouri law school experienced an 11% drop in its first-year enrollment, while applications have declined almost 17%.