Shrinking Law Jobs Market Increases Startup Firms
Over the next three years over 40,000 law students are expected to graduate from law schools located within the United States. Due to the downturn in the economy in 2008, corporate America shrank, downsized and effectively reduced the demand for legal work from major law firms. As a result of a decline in available law jobs, experienced attorneys and those with only a few years under their belts have turned to starting their own law firms and providing low cost legal work to clients.
The reduced demand for legal work and decrease in available law jobs presents the obvious question – how will this affect law school enrollment where tuition costs can reach up to $60,000 per year? The ABA Journal reported that law school applications are down 10% (credited to the Jackson Clarion Ledger.) With an increased focus on the global economy, however, it’s quite possible that much may change for those who are multilingual and interested in internal law. The explosion of outsourcing has created new opportunities both in technology and in the legal industry. Average wages for law jobs have only shown marginal incremental growth over the past four years according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. This is the case even though law jobs in the aggregate comprise of less than 1% of the total workforce.
The University of Mississippi School of Law has taken the downturn seriously and notes that other graduate programs are on the rise. What separates the school from the pack is the value proposition. Like many state schools, the in-state tuition rate for Ole Miss is far more affordable than traditional law schools and far less than top tier law schools such as Harvard, Yale and Columbia University. An important statistic for students to take note is the concentration of law jobs in state as many law schools will focus on training law students for practice within the state. If the concentration of law jobs to non-legal jobs is low, as it is in Mississippi, then a student may need to seriously consider out of state work. Before thinking about a career in law, a potential law student should carefully consider the law jobs market before applying to law school.
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