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April 22, 2012
Browsing On A Sunday: It's Earth Day, and Commentary on the Job Market for Lawyers
It’s Earth Day. What better way to observe it by observing the Earth from the International Space Station. NASA has prepared an approximately four minute view of the planet taken in time lapse by the Expedition 30 crew aboard the ISS. The music is annoying, but the player allows for turning off the sound. If anyone viewing the Earth from space wondered if life existed on the planet, the vast blotches of light coming from urban areas would answer that question. More videos are here.
An article in The Atlantic examines the effects of the recession on the practice and profits of Big Law, and it isn’t good. The article is called The Death Spiral of America’s Big Law Firms. The initial focus is on the instability of top firm Dewey & LeBouef. The article, however, goes on to document the decline of business for similar firms and how they have coped. It’s not pretty. Partners are moving; fees are dropping as firms start competing for clients; and clients are more cognizant of the costs for legal services. This means fewer jobs for law graduates. That conclusion is not exactly a secret at law schools.
One of the types of jobs post-recession, part-time document review attorney is an example of a service provided at a lower cost. It’s also a service that is fed by the glut of graduates willing to work part-time to pay off debts. Graduates who land full-time jobs at firms will now have to consider whether there is enough work for the firm to maintain its roster. This article from the Charlotte Observer suggests that the legal job market is better than it was several years ago, though nowhere near the days when a law graduate could expect general success. Those days are not coming back with the retrenchment in services and fees.
Georgetown University is becoming the second school to offer executive management classes as part of a post law school education opportunity. The program is designed to help lawyers and firms understand the changing business landscape for the practice of law. Harvard started to do something like this a while back. I’ve said this more than once: If schools have the expertise to offer this as post-graduation training, why can’t they offer it as part of the regular curriculum? Is something that may be fundamentally useful to graduates relegated to the premium package for law school? The Washington Post has more on Georgetown’s program.
In a side note, the new law school planned by Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne has received approval by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals. Hope springs eternal. Will we see the day when late night television is graced with ads and infomercials for a law school degree similar to art and trade degrees?
The cost of applying to a law school is going up. The Law School Admission Council is hiking various fees, from taking the test ($160 up from $139), using the Credential Assembly fee ($155 up from $124), to sending scores to individual schools ($21 dollars up from $16). The price increases are a result of fewer students taking the exam. More on this in the Texas Lawyer. [MG]