You need to know that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has been warning about law school overproduction since 1996: there are too many law schools producing too many graduates for the number of jobs out there. It’s just gotten worse since then, to the point where just in this decade class action lawsuits have been filed against quite a number of law schools for fraudulent admissions practices such as lying about job placement.
Why have law schools become such a point of contention? Colleges and universities love them because they produce revenue and lend prestige to an institution. If an institution has had the money to invest in a law school, it’s been difficult for many of them to resist. The problem is that available jobs for lawyers are unable to keep up with an increasingly large pool of law school graduates, forcing more and more people who earn law degrees to work in jobs that don’t require the degree. While legal study and the soft skills developed by that study are assets to many employers, there are less expensive ways to develop those skills.
So what should you do if law school is your dream? Here’s my advice:
- Think first about where you want to practice law.
- Think next about what kind of law you want to practice.
- Ignore law school rankings, or think about them only secondarily.
- Pay attention to law school job placement rate instead. The top schools for job placement are not necessarily the top ranked schools.
- Don’t get this information from the law schools themselves.
- Keep in mind that it’s becoming conventional wisdom that pre-law degrees are not the best path into law school.
That last point may be surprising, but the link above cites data indicating that philosophy, history, and journalism majors are admitted to law school at higher rates than pre-law or criminal justice majors. English has been, traditionally, a solid degree leading to law school as it requires a lot of reading, writing, and argument-building, even better than a degree in political science.
If you’d like professional help thinking through your law school choices, get in touch with Bright Futures Educational Consulting through our Contact Page. Your first hour of consultation is always free.