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Brutal Job Market For US Lawyers

Things are getting rough for new lawyers entering the job market, as well as established lawyers already in practice.  The Wall Street Journal reports…

Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers
Growth of Legal Sector Lags Broader Economy; Law Schools Proliferate
By AMIR EFRATI

A law degree isn’t necessarily a license to print money these days.

For graduates of elite law schools, prospects have never been better. Big law firms this year boosted their starting salaries to as high as $160,000. But the majority of law-school graduates are suffering from a supply-and-demand imbalance that’s suppressing pay and job growth. The result: Graduates who don’t score at the top of their class are struggling to find well-paying jobs to make payments on law-school debts that can exceed $100,000. Some are taking temporary contract work, reviewing documents for as little as $20 an hour, without benefits. And many are blaming their law schools for failing to warn them about the dark side of the job market.

The law degree that Scott Bullock gained in 2005 from Seton Hall University — where he says he ranked in the top third of his class — is a “waste,” he says. Some former high-school friends are earning considerably more as plumbers and electricians than the $50,000-a-year Mr. Bullock is making as a personal-injury attorney in Manhattan. To boot, he is paying off $118,000 in law-school debt.

“Unfortunately, some find the practice of law is not for them,” Seton Hall’s associate dean, Kathleen Boozang, said through a spokeswoman. “However, it is our experience that a legal education is a tremendous asset for a variety of professional paths.”

A slack in demand appears to be part of the problem. The legal sector, after more than tripling in inflation-adjusted growth between 1970 and 1987, has grown at an average annual inflation-adjusted rate of 1.2% since 1988, or less than half as fast as the broader economy, according to Commerce Department data.


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