Deborah Jones Merritt has just posted a new piece on SSRN (as well as a related blog post) that’s well worth looking at for anyone interested in the state of the legal job marketplace – and the implications for law schools.
Taking advantage of the wealth of information now publicly available on the internet, Merritt conducted a down and dirty longitudinal study of those admitted to the Ohio bar in 2010, when the full impact of the recession had hit legal hiring.
She finds that job outcomes nearly five years out are poor. She compares the 2010 Ohio figures with the 2000 national figures from the After The JD study, and finds that those who started out in Ohio in the midst of a recession in 2010 were in worse shape four and a half years out than the national cohort of those who started out in the 2000 recession.
From that, combined with a look at the changing structure of the legal marketplace, she draws a bigger – and undoubtedly more controversial – conclusion, which is that the contrast most likely is explained by the changing structure of the legal services marketplace, where US lawyer jobs are being replaced by everything from outsourcing to software. Put differently, she concludes that her Ohio figures provide data to support the claim that structural change is depressing job prospects for young lawyers.
Last but perhaps not least, she digs in to what this implies for law schools.