Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Legal Job Market Future

I'm about to start college and i'm thinking about getting my trial2203/31/18
Even if many decide not to go into the profession, there wil hairypalms03/31/18
Word of advice --- do NOT go to law school thinking you'll b patenttrollnj04/01/18
There are significant numbers of patent lawyers with PhDs an therewillbeblood04/01/18
I used to work with some. It's very frustrating. patenttrollnj04/02/18
that’s a really good and tough question. Medicine might no ambulancechaser201303/31/18
Sure, if by a lot of money you mean 600k, then yeah, only su zuma04/02/18
This is the kind of thinking that lead many to the law schoo wearyattorney04/02/18
First off, I never said I think medicine is a great career p zuma04/02/18
Fair enough, but it’s coming to an end. People considerin wearyattorney04/02/18
Don’t go into anesthesiology. They are moving to nurse-pra jorgedeclaro04/02/18
"Just because doctors waste their money like drunken sailors patenttrollnj04/04/18
Hairypalms said it best, "law school will always be there." thirdtierlaw03/31/18
That’s right, the only way is to remove the federal guaran wearyattorney04/02/18
Hairypalms gives the credited response. Don't look at law sc drwayoflife03/31/18
Thank you for all of your responses. I'd be lying if I s trial2204/01/18
To be fair this forum has overwhelmingly sorted itself out o flyer1404/01/18
Unfortunately, practically every field is oversaturated thes patenttrollnj04/01/18
Trade school or civil service. greenhorn04/01/18
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/ blog/how-do-life/201803/3 wearyattorney04/01/18
From time to time, i usually lurk here (like occasionally vi lifeofleisure04/02/18
I appreciate the brutal honestly from you all. trial2204/02/18
"4. Government jobs are underrated. Even if you believe that flyer1404/04/18
Join the military and get a pension. jeffm04/01/18
Not a bad idea, but there are other government jobs that off wearyattorney04/01/18
It's interesting that you say Military, Trade school etc. th trial2204/01/18
We have a massive labor surplus due to globalization, and no wearyattorney04/01/18
I submit that certain STEM fields are just as bad as law. patenttrollnj04/02/18
"I find it hard to believe that I simply will have an extrem wolfman04/02/18
It is hard to believe, for you, because you have been lied t defensivelawyer04/02/18
“while off-loading the liability (for lost years and 100k+ wearyattorney04/02/18
Are there any jobs that would pay for ones JD while they're trial2204/02/18
My law school night program had intermediately ranked police wearyattorney04/02/18
There were a few in my school who were veterans that had at pisces21304/04/18

trial22 (Mar 31, 2018 - 12:27 am)

I'm about to start college and i'm thinking about getting my bachelors and then heading off to law school afterwards. This is about 8-9 years in the future as I haven't started school yet and i'm just wondering if you guys believe the job market will be much better in the future around this time and is the future growth of only about 6% underrated? I feel many students are looking at the job market now and shying away from it so maybe over saturation can be be avoided? I was wondering what the thoughts of many of the people on this forum were and was hoping to get some input on it.

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hairypalms (Mar 31, 2018 - 5:09 am)

Even if many decide not to go into the profession, there will be an oversaturation for many years to come. Big law firms continue to shrink and there is no place for these people to go except open their own firm. You are not taking into account the technological aspects undermining the demise of the legal profession, i.e., Legal Zoom et al. Trial work will always be there but it takes a special breed to do this type of work. I'm a transactional lawyer and this type of work will continue to erode as technology improves. I would recommend going into the medical STEM field. Worst case is that you can do patent law (also quite saturated) but would have the potential for other opportunities outside of your standard political science degree. Find a major that is NOT poly sci, history or English. Find an undergrad major that is actually useful and you can get a job out of the gate such as engineering/science. Law school will always be there for you if that is what you decide to do. You first need to get through undergrad, obtain good grades and do well on the lsat if law is to be an option.

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patenttrollnj (Apr 1, 2018 - 6:46 am)

Word of advice --- do NOT go to law school thinking you'll be a patent lawyer unless you majored in either electrical engineering or chemical engineering.

Gone are the days when a mere chemistry major could become a patent lawyer.

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therewillbeblood (Apr 1, 2018 - 1:28 pm)

There are significant numbers of patent lawyers with PhDs and JDs who can’t find patent law jobs.

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patenttrollnj (Apr 2, 2018 - 2:06 pm)

I used to work with some. It's very frustrating.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Mar 31, 2018 - 6:10 am)

that’s a really good and tough question. Medicine might not be in 20 years what is is today.

If you are good at math I’d say go to business school but only a top 10 program. Personally if I could have done it again I would have done an undergraduate degree in business from my prestigious undergrad and gone to Wall Street. Don’t know if I would have lasted.

In medicine, if you are not a surgeon you are not going to make a lot of money. And remember only about 8-10% of doctors are surgeons. Factor in what may be a new form of health insurance and even that may be over.

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zuma (Apr 2, 2018 - 2:07 pm)

Sure, if by a lot of money you mean 600k, then yeah, only surgeons make a lot of money.

Average salaries by specialty in 2015:

Anesthesiology $357,116
Dermatology $400,898
Gastroenterology $379,460

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/physician-salaries/384846/

Just because doctors waste their money like drunken sailors doesn't mean they don't rake it in.

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wearyattorney (Apr 2, 2018 - 2:20 pm)

This is the kind of thinking that lead many to the law school train wreck.

Here’s what has to happen for you to become an MD:

1) Graduate with from college at least a 3.6 and with hard science pre-reqs.

2) At an absolutely minimum, have an MCAT in the 85th percentile, probably higher.

Now... you go a few hundred k in debt to do 3 years of Med school and you take part 1 of whatever the hell they take to get licensed. At this point, IF you did well enough in med school and that test, you see where you will place in terms of residency. Only the best will get into those specialties (which entail another 5-10 years of training, so life starts at 35-40 for these folks).

If you don’t do well, then you go into a low paid specialty, primary care, pediatrics, etc where you can expect to make between 90-150k in salary.

So at 30ish, with like 300k in loans, You’ll make what a California teacher makes who started working a lot earlier than you and without the debt.

This may sound good to people that were obliterated by law school, but that’s not a good outcome for people that have the ability to get into medical school and the capacity to delay gratification until their 30s.

And this doesn’t take into account that what happened to law, is going to happen to medicine (slowly, slowly slowly).

Ten years ago, I remember people on this board saying tax law or patent law or some other specialty was ok. Now, we know that those specialties are mostly down the toilet bowel as well.

You aren’t going to make money selling time for money (labor) unless you vote (public sector employment). Otherwise, you have to be creative and entrepreneurial. That’s the harsh truth,

If they can’t skin medicine law school style, it’s racist to not have open admissions policy, they’ll skin it another way: nurse practitioners, DOs, survivors of the Carribean med school lottery, etc.

What you just cited above is like citing Big law partner salaries, that’s the top of the game, and the people playing that game are really the smartest one dimensional players in the game.

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zuma (Apr 2, 2018 - 4:06 pm)

First off, I never said I think medicine is a great career path or that any average student who would otherwise major in gender studies just needs to plan to become a dermatologist and things will be rosy.

And of course it's difficult to become a doctor. It's not difficult to become a lawyer. Everyone knows that, or they learn it by the time they take organic chemistry or a practice MCAT. That has nothing to do with the fact that doctors make a lot of money, especially ones who graduated back in the 80s and 90s. I was responding to the comment that only surgeons make a lot of money. I can tell you from practice that is not the case at all.

And I have no doubt technology will inevitably strip much of that away. Sooner for some, like radiologists. But the point is that right now doctors are doing fine and I'm not shedding any tears for them, long residencies or not. They have billions of dollars of government subsidies and lobbyists ensuring that their market is protected. Lawyers do not.

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wearyattorney (Apr 2, 2018 - 4:28 pm)

Fair enough, but it’s coming to an end. People considering entering the field now need to understand that because the outcomes are going to be almost as bad as law soon enough.

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jorgedeclaro (Apr 2, 2018 - 3:15 pm)

Don’t go into anesthesiology. They are moving to nurse-practioners for anesthesia.

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patenttrollnj (Apr 4, 2018 - 1:12 am)

"Just because doctors waste their money like drunken sailors ..."

That's not a fair statement. Personally, I find most doctors to be very sensible people.

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thirdtierlaw (Mar 31, 2018 - 7:32 am)

Hairypalms said it best, "law school will always be there." Maybe the market will improve or maybe it won't, but the best thing about law school is that you can get your undergraduate degree in anything and still go to law school. Even if you believe law school is your ultimate goal, you should still major, intern, etc. in something that has transferable skills. Maybe something computer related, engineering, or business. All of those things will help you once you get a law degree or if the market is awful and you skip law school.

I'm not sure how "pre-law" became a major, but my complete dearth of poli sci classes have not affected my success in the law in the slightest. The truth is you can get all applicable skills that a "pre-law" track would offer with 1 or 2 fun philosophy electives. It'll have you practicing reading arguments closely, writing persuasively, and arguing.

Nobody here can tell you where the legal market will be in 7-8. I'm sure those people starting undergrad in 2001 thought that law school was an awesome bet and felt more reassured all the way up to when they were entering their 3L year. Then they were suddenly graduating law school in the middle of a bloodbath.

Personally, the only way I see the legal market getting back to the era of most attorneys making good money is if they overhaul the student loan system and cause all but the top 50-80 schools to close their doors.

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wearyattorney (Apr 2, 2018 - 3:58 pm)

That’s right, the only way is to remove the federal guarantee.

They’ll survive otherwise. They will keep reducing standards, except for the one that requires 3 years of time and 200k in cash. Keep the bar exam passing score where it’s at? Racist. Impose a minimum LSAT or GPA? Racist. Having some threshold regarding admitting people with criminal backgrounds? Racist. Eliminating all standards, including law school and letting people learn apprenticeship style? Whoa, that’s irresponsible, that’s going too far because, for example,Abraham Lincoln was incompetent. Requiring people, including minorities, to incur indentured servant level debt to become lawyers? Totally necessary, only people that have never practiced law a day in their life can teach you how to think like a lawyer, and the cost is worth it no matter what because if you don’t pay them that, theylll immediate transfer to seven figure Big law partnerships by the power of prestige alone.

Liberals: Running the prime time con job since 1917, ie demanding/imposing self sacrifice from the masses while gorging on the public coffers and body politics like mega hogs.

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drwayoflife (Mar 31, 2018 - 8:02 am)

Hairypalms gives the credited response. Don't look at law school as Plan A, make it a Plan B. If at the end of undergrad the legal field looks promising and you do well on your lsat then go for it. Until then you should really be treating the undergrad degree as your endgame.

Just some general thoughts on undergrad majors.
I moved into the software field after washing out of the legal profession and I've been cautioning people falling for the STEM meme too hard. The IT industry has been broadcasting the need for developers/engineers for years now and I suspect we are about to see another glut of software engineers similar to what happened in the mid-90s. Right now there is no shortage of "monkey coders". I would encourage you to go down the STEM route, but merely STEM is no longer enough to stand out. Add some business courses if you can. I think that "project manager" is the new "software engineer" - there's a great need right now for people with managerial skills AND technical knowledge. If you can hit that sweet spot you'll climb quickly in the current IT world.

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trial22 (Apr 1, 2018 - 1:00 am)

Thank you for all of your responses.

I'd be lying if I said that most of this isn't disappointing to hear for me considering I have a fairly high interest in law. Even when I try to look at things on the brighter side, i'm still prone to shy away from what i've been hearing and researching from people in practice. I agree that the available open slots are probably grossly over exaggerated and a new tech boom of students is already happening so i'm also prone to steer clear of that as well.

Seems like everyone's trying to get into STEM these days and essentially I fear another tech boom is going to come and one can already see with the booming enrollment that it's most likely to be true as well as the fact that programmer outlook is quite bad as well. Many of those programmers will just be switching to whatever filed is making the most money in tech anyway. So I agree the employment opportunities are grossly exaggerated.

Yes i've heard patent law is a good option although like you said it's still oversaturated. My fear is not competition as I feel i'm naturally competitive it's just simply being able to have opportunities.

Not exactly sure what i'd essentially want to major in at this point for undergrad. Any suggestions?

I know looking for internet validity and people to help me out for big life choices is probably not my best bet as there is sometimes a conflict of interest there...Although I feel i'd be able to weed those out fairly easily.

So thanks again for the inputs and looking forward to any replies and i'm definitely considering law in the future but I agree the back burner might have to be where it goes for now.

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flyer14 (Apr 1, 2018 - 4:20 am)

To be fair this forum has overwhelmingly sorted itself out over the years - meaning the horrific failures are overrepresented here. That said, any sober analysis of the years 2008-2016 show that at least half of the people who graduated in those years never found a legal job.

Most of them wound up sooner or later in government (like me), in nebulous “JD Advantage” jobs like compliance, or in something completely unrelated.

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patenttrollnj (Apr 1, 2018 - 7:09 am)

Unfortunately, practically every field is oversaturated these days.

Also, don't be fooled with all this STEM nonsense. Unless you go into medicine, dentistry or certain (but not all) engineering fields, STEM can be quite awful. AND .... avoid any biology related major, unless it's biomedical or biochemical engineering (but, depending on the college, that may not actually be an undergraduate major ... rather it's a graduate level concentration).

Regarding law, there are still many lawyers out there doing quite well. However, law is extremely risky, and one's success is often directly correlated to their school ranking, class ranking and family/political connections. Thus, if you happen to get into Harvard law school, go to law school. If your father happens to be Donald Trump, go to law school.

Otherwise, you need to have a "Plan B" for what to do when your legal career goes belly-up. Luckily, you'll know within 5 years of graduating law school if you have a future in the legal sector.

My advice: get into the best college possible AND take classes to fluff-up your GPA as high as possible. THEN, after you graduate, get a job and work for a while. If you decide at that point to do medical/dental school, take the pre-med classes in a post-bac. Or, take a few programing classes .... or any class towards a career.

Good luck!

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greenhorn (Apr 1, 2018 - 12:17 pm)

Trade school or civil service.

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wearyattorney (Apr 1, 2018 - 1:21 pm)

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-do-life/201803/31-inconvenient-career-truths

Read this article, I’m saving it for my nieces and nephews. It’s the best I have ever read. It’s the most honest and the most enlightening. This is should be next to your bible (or whatever religious text you associate with).

Unless you are positively exceptional, due to globalization, you need government employment. And not just any government employment, but the kind with political protection.

Law is dead, where dead means it’s like professional football, if you aren’t in the guys that make it to the NFL, you wasted a lot of time. Only law is a waste of time and money, and it is difficult to transition out.

You would hear more about this, even more so that now, but the very few that do well in the profession and those that do it for non-financial reasons (trustfundarian for status, etc) will really punish anyone that speaks up. That’s why the original scambloggers were such heroes.

It was without a doubt the greatest mistake of my life, and I am not alone.

Don’t do it. No matter what you say, your view of law is colored by the profession during a very specific time in history, eg post war boom, where we had a robust middle class and domestic economy. That’s gone now. It isn’t coming back. There are other options.

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lifeofleisure (Apr 2, 2018 - 7:45 pm)

From time to time, i usually lurk here (like occasionally visiting a level of Dante's inferno) to see how the profession I used to belong to is doing and chime in on a quality thread that serves well the admonition stated at the beginning of Dickens' Bleak House at the High Court of Chancery: "Suffer any wrong that can be done you rather than come here!"

The folks in this thread are brutally honest to any starry-eyed collegian who thinks that law school might be a noble (ahem), or profitable (hah!) profession. Be that as it may, there are exceptions, but that depends on qualities and conditions completely out of your control, like luck.

Let me relate to you some cautionary tales: there's this one person who took out Himalayan-sized loans to go to law school, then went to get a science degree (biology) and thought that was the ticket to success as a patent lawyer. While finding some success initially, even going to form his own firm, eventually the work dried up and he had to leave the firm, leaving only his name as a memento to his faded endeavor.
There's another lawyer I know who thought law would be the way to getting a house. The first attempt was a disaster, having bought before the 2008 panic and losing it to foreclosure a couple years later, but whose credit was saved from Obama regulations that allowed forgiveness of such loans from the IRS. Not having learned any lessons from that experience, this person went ahead and bought an even more expensive house under the assumption that another job was going to last years, but which ended only a year and a half later, and now that person is looking into the teeth of another foreclosure, but with Trump now rescinding all such forgiveness rules.

The lesson here: don't go into law unless you want to end up like one of these deluded professionals.

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trial22 (Apr 2, 2018 - 8:23 pm)

I appreciate the brutal honestly from you all.

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flyer14 (Apr 4, 2018 - 11:49 am)

"4. Government jobs are underrated. Even if you believe that the government is inefficient, slow, and has too many employees who keep their job only because the government rarely fires people, many career seekers will find a government job, particularly a federal one, to be the best option, especially as we look ahead to a future in which the private sector will likely continue its trend to automating, part-timing, and offshoring as much as possible."

TITCR

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jeffm (Apr 1, 2018 - 1:27 pm)

Join the military and get a pension.

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wearyattorney (Apr 1, 2018 - 1:41 pm)

Not a bad idea, but there are other government jobs that offer similar advantages without the risk.

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trial22 (Apr 1, 2018 - 5:03 pm)

It's interesting that you say Military, Trade school etc. these seem like very safe bets for a decent living and if your cards are played right you can live quite well it seems.

Although with that being said, I find it hard to believe that I simply will have an extremely tough time finding a job if I were to pursue my education further picking a prestigious field that may not be the "hot craze" but something fairly decent that pays well.

I know if I were to have gone to trade school, that once I finished my apprenticeship or what have you and I started on the job...That there would be tons of people as i'm progressing in my career that are graduating from college and receiving some good job offers. These aren't necessarily the top students either but they're half decent.

That's just my take on it. I think there are opportunities out there i'm just probably going to have to work harder and network harder than was done in the past.

It's disappointing to hear but thank you for giving me the harsh reality about the future of the job market in Law. You guys may have saved me quite a bit of time and money and for that i'm appreciative.

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wearyattorney (Apr 1, 2018 - 9:30 pm)

We have a massive labor surplus due to globalization, and not only that, a good portion of the labor is for all intents and purposes slaves.

This means employers can be incredibly demanding even for crappy jobs, and it makes transitioning to another field very difficult because there will almost certainly be someone with experience in that field, and “why should I hire you over an experienced candidate?”

All private sector employment problems, including STEM. Law is just the worst of the worst. Hypersaturated, enhances the difficulty to switch careers (something that is already difficult), long hours, and usually bad pay.

Anything positive can be found elsewhere without those problems.

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patenttrollnj (Apr 2, 2018 - 2:15 pm)

I submit that certain STEM fields are just as bad as law.

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wolfman (Apr 2, 2018 - 2:45 pm)

"I find it hard to believe that I simply will have an extremely tough time finding a job if I were to pursue my education further picking a prestigious field that may not be the "hot craze" but something fairly decent that pays well."

Pure and simple, law is not "something fairly decent that pays well." At this point, it is a small, extremely selective and prestige-driven profession with a lot of its own problems [BigLaw, judges, certain government jobs and a group of "legacy" lawyers with money and connections] that is mixed up with a much bigger oversaturated dying trade full of desperate people [the rest of law]. There is virtually no mobility between the two.

This kind of thing would normally sort itself out due to market forces, but it is prevented from doing so by a completely unconscionable "legal education" cartel that exists to take money from the federal government and funnel it in the pockets of deans and faculty while off-loading the liability (for lost years and 100k+ of non-dischargeable debt) on someone else (graduates). Their very existence depends on, quite literally, tens of thousands of college kids signing up for loans each year to get a "graduate degree" in a field they know nothing about, in the hopes of getting the kinds of jobs they will NEVER have (and even the lucky few who do get those jobs often find them not at all as advertised, but that is a different problem).

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defensivelawyer (Apr 2, 2018 - 4:05 pm)

It is hard to believe, for you, because you have been lied to and know less than nothing. I don’t meant it as an insult when I say you are ignorant. I am ignorant on many things, as is everybody.

Belief is a dangerous thing.

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wearyattorney (Apr 2, 2018 - 4:32 pm)

“while off-loading the liability (for lost years and 100k+ of non-dischargeable debt) on someone else (graduates AND THE TAXPAYER.”

FTFY

Otherwise, epic post. Spot on.

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trial22 (Apr 2, 2018 - 7:32 pm)

Are there any jobs that would pay for ones JD while they're working for them? In say...Night classes after work or something of that nature?

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wearyattorney (Apr 2, 2018 - 8:54 pm)

My law school night program had intermediately ranked police officers attending. To the man- and I mean to the man- they all stuck to policing and were laughing at what was happening to the K-JD crowd. I mean laughing hard.

They probably got their JD paid for and it might be of some use to them when they retire or it might help them move up the super high ranks.

The above scenario and similar such scenarios are the only time a JD makes sense.

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pisces213 (Apr 4, 2018 - 7:27 am)

There were a few in my school who were veterans that had at least part of their tuition covered through the GI Bill so there is that.

Also, law is an area worth working in if you feel your calling is in the public sector or otherwise helping people in need. While tech will eventually replace most lawyers, there will always be those who can’t afford or use tech and must rely on people to help them.

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