For several years lawyers have been warning college grads to think very carefully before attending law school. Changes in how law is practiced combined with technological upheaval in the field have reduced America’s carrying capacity for lawyers. Simply put, America is producing too many lawyers for too few jobs. The unemployment rate for students nine months out of law school was 11.2 percent in 2013, compared to 10.6 percent in 2012. The market, however, finally appears to be adjusting, reports Quartz:
It took prospective law students some time after the financial crisis to recognize the profession’s new reality of fewer jobs and less pay. But if the continuing drop in those taking law school admission exams (LSATs) or applying for admission to the American Bar Association (ABA) are any indication, the US lawyer bubble has conclusively popped.Despite a generally improving economy, which might have signalled good times for lawyers in the past, the numbers of LSAT takers and ABA applicants have declined by double digit percentages for the second consecutive year, and dropped for the third straight year.
Quartz expects that less prestigious law schools will close or combine as applications continue to drop. The bubble doubtless still has a lot of deflating to do now that it has popped, and for many the transition will be painful. But we’re glad to see college grads catching up new market realities, avoiding the grim fate of spending three expensive, grueling years getting a JD and then failing to score a job. For many creative, smart young Americans, law will still be a viable field. But prospective students are learning that it will no longer be the golden ticket to an upper middle-class lifestyle it used to be, and responding well.