Saturday, May 2, 2015
Barbri, the bar prep company, has published the results of its first ever survey intended to gauge the state of the legal field regarding the skills needed to succeed as lawyers, how well law school prepares students for practice and predictions about the job market among other topics. Barbri commissioned an independent research company to survey the opinions of 1500 law students, professors and practicing attorneys. The law school respondents were evenly distributed among law school tiers and about half the students surveyed were 3Ls. The following is a summary of the key findings though you can read the full report here which includes some nifty charts and graphs.
KEY FINDING #1
Law students (and particularly 3L law students) assess their own readiness to practice law more positively than do attorneys who work with recent law school graduates.
76 percent of 3L law students believe they are prepared to practice law "right now." In comparison, 56 percent of practicing attorneys who work with recent law school graduates believe that, in general, recent law school graduates are prepared to practice law.
KEY FINDING #2
When forced to choose, both attorneys (41 percent) and law school faculty (51 percent) agree that writing is the most important skill for recent law school graduates.
Attorneys placed more importance than did faculty on interpersonal skills (24 percent) and research skills (18 percent).
Almost a quarter of attorneys who have worked with recent law school graduates rate interpersonal skills as the most important skill for them to have mastered.
KEY FINDING #3
Law students assess their legal writing skills and their practice skills more positively than attorneys who work with recent law school grads.
82 percent of 3L law students believe they are effective legal writers. In contrast, only 57 percent of practicing attorneys who work at companies that hire recent law school graduates believe recent law school graduates are effective legal writers.
KEY FINDING #4
Most attorneys expect a somewhat stagnant job market, but law students are optimistic.
Attorneys at companies that hire recent law school graduates report a median salary starting at $50,000/year. The median expected starting salary among law students is $70,000/year.
91 percent of attorneys at companies with 1-10 attorneys expect their companies to stay the same or decrease in size over the next 3 years.
At companies with more than 10 attorneys, 72 percent expect their companies to stay the same or decrease in number of attorneys over the next 3 years.
KEY FINDINGS #5
Although most law students will have significant debt at graduation, 82 percent of them expect to get good value out of that investment. And 78 percent of practicing attorneys agree that their income since graduation has justified the cost of their J.D.
83 percent of current law school students expect to have education loans when they graduate. More than half expect to have over $100,000 in loans when they graduate.
Hat tip to Professor Joe Harbaugh.