Pondering a Career in Law?

On 03/08/2010, in Formal Education, by Jordan Wilson

Maybe now is not the time to do so.

The NALP — The Association for Legal Career Professionals published a report on Perspectives on Fall 2009 Law Student Recruiting. The conclusions are not great for those contemplating a law career.

All of the markers that measure the strength of the legal employment market for new lawyers, such as law firm recruiting levels for summer programs and summer program outcomes, fell in 2009, continuing and accelerating the general downward trend in recruiting volumes that was measured in 2008.

The offer rate to summer associates for entry-level associate positions fell by more than 20 full percentage points, from 89.9% in 2008 to 69.3% in 2009. This is by far the lowest offer rate measured since NALP began collecting this data in 1993. Similarly and not surprisingly, the acceptance rate for these offers jumped by nearly five full percentage points, to 84.5%, which also marks the highest offer acceptance rate ever recorded.

… at this time all indications are that the market for entry-level legal employment remains very constricted and that legal employers will likely continue to approach all hiring extremely cautiously for the foreseeable future.

For Canadians, I have not seen any current hard data. Based on anecdotal information, it appears that hiring by Canadian law firms is down and that the number of applicants continues to increase.

While not a rosy forecast, as I have written before, take some solace in basic economics and the marketplace.

With weak employment opportunities in law, students will look elsewhere for careers. Areas where job prospects are good at the moment. Over time this will lead to a relative shortfall in law graduates and less competition for open positions. As the economy turns around, the number of open jobs will also rise, providing further opportunities for employment and generous compensation.

So, if you want to become a lawyer and have perhaps a five year time horizon before seeking full-time employment, do not despair. You may be okay by then.

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