I have some observations regarding this unemployed lawyer’s lament as he Occupies Wall Street.
It is true that many law schools have been exposed lately for inflating their employment statistics. The American Bar Association announced last month that it was drafting a rule including sanctions for law schools that intentionally falsify jobs data, possibly including monetary fines or the loss of accreditation. That is as it should be.
Nonetheless, I am dubious about the sign’s 99.9% claim, especially in the absence of a named institution. Promising 100% employment to any group seems excessive, and a person of normal intelligence would, or certainly should be skeptical. Thus, after only the first line, I am dubious about the candor and/or judgment of the sign-holder.
I am also dubious about his account of his conversation with the Dean. Do you know what the unemployment rate was for lawyers in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Labor?
1.5%, and that’s a big increase from 2007, when it was under 1%. What law school is this where 30% or more of the graduates are unemployed? If true, it has to be one spectacularly crummy institution. Again, I am dubious.
But I am especially dubious about anyone with a law degree who isn’t a drooling idiot and yet says he has “no job prospects.” Impossible. A law degree is the most versatile and useful degree there is. It is just as useful for getting management jobs in business and politics as it is in law. It is considered a credential for consulting, negotiation, public speaking, and lobbying. I once was hired to run a health care organization that required a medical degree: they couldn’t find a doctor they liked, so the Chairman of the Board said, “Eh, a law degree’s just as good,” and hired me. No prospects? None? What’s wrong with this guy?
His insistence on only legal fields is one mistake, a common and stupid one encouraged by the law schools themselves. There’s nothing inherently wonderful about working as a lawyer, and many terrific jobs in other areas regard lawyers as ideal candidates. My law degree was critical in getting me a job running a public policy research foundation, a position as a fundraiser for a university, a job as head of a marketing operation. My legal background came in handy in all of them, too.
Law school, like college and other graduate schools, costs too much, but as with a medical education, there is no excuse for not being able to find some employment with one. And unlike college, the tuition is still a good investment, since the majority of lawyers make at least six-figure salaries. Every day this lawyer is outside beating bongos or chanting “hey, hey, ABA…” or whatever magic mantra he’s repeating out there is a day he could be finding a job rather than complaining. I believe we have some clues as to why this individual is unemployed, and it isn’t Wall Street’s fault.
And there is one more thing to consider. Nothing, presumably, is stopping a healthy young man who actually learned anything at law school from doing what young lawyers from Abraham Lincoln to Clarence Darrow to my father did and still do: hang out a shingle and start a solo practice, at least until another job materializes. There are indigent defendants that need representation; there are non-profits that need affordable legal work. He could be doing some good for the other “99%,’ and starting to pay of that loan in the process.
“No job prospects”?
[Ethics Alarms thanks The Legal Ethics Forum for finding the sign.]