Thursday, August 6, 2015
Not good. There are more law graduates than jobs, yet law schools are making matters worse by admitting more students in order to generate subsidies for other parts of the university. That the basic charge of the Australian Law Students Association (ALSA), according to this story in the Lawyers Weekly, a publication that covers the business of law in Australia.
Legal education is Australia is very different than the U.S., yet the dynamics of the two entry-level markets seem to be converging. Law has historically been an undergraduate degree in Australia (LLB), but in recent years the JD has been added as a new and more prestigious way into the profession. Here is the statement of an ALSA spokesperson based on recent survey results of the ALSA membership.
ALSA are of the position that there is still an oversupply of graduates because of the increasing sizes of law schools and the duplication in the number of law schools across the country. ...
Many who have undertaken the Juris Doctor particularly expressed concerns in their survey responses, highlighting that they undertook the postgraduate law degree to further their job prospects. Instead, they are facing the worrying reality that there are fewer jobs available for law graduates as well as the fact that they are completing their degrees with a sizeable student debt.
The article then goes on to describe growing law student anxiety over employment and student loan debt. Wow, different system but a very similar result.
One of the advantages of the Australian LLB degree is that it is often combined with another undergraduate degree, typically by adding one year of additional study. As a result, many LLBs don't go on to qualify for practice, but the legal training probably augments their worldly knowledge and critical thinking skills. But alas, the Australians are starting to dilute their extremely generous higher education subsidies -- we are just much further down that road. Further, the true undercurrent here is the growing insecurity facing virtually all knowledge workers, Australian or US. Legal education is just the bleeding edge of this problem.