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December 05, 2015


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Sy Ablelman

So, the law schools are going to pump out 40-50K new lawyers again? Please, just talk to any practicing attorney. I am not saying this for selfish reasons. It is now a matter of survival for many attorneys, me included. I know at least two veteran attorneys working minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. Several others are unemployed or underemployed. I was denied a subsidized Silver Plan on the ACA market and sent to the Medicaid pool. I have 197K in student loan debt that I am trying to pay back. It just does not work when an "UNDERSERVED" class of client can only afford three bills per court appearance. Is this any way to administer Justice or be the face of the Law?


The topic in the comment above is of great significance to those outside of the academy. There aren't many recent practioners inside the academy so these comments are quite illuminating.


It is bad out there Sy. The academy won't look at the harm to human capital caused by bumper crops of grads. It also harms clients. Because most legal education is spent training students to think like lawyers rather than to practice like lawyers, the profession requires a lot of on the job training -- especially non-biglaw.

huge classes mean inadequate graduate opportunities for the students, who really are unqualified to work independently as lawyers for the first 2 to 3 years. You will see a number of the members of the glutted classes continue to meander through the profession without ever having learned from a seasoned attorney. That is not good. It will mean that a lot of clients are disappointed by the profession.


I appreciate Sy's comment for its honesty. If you talk to just about any practicing attorney and ask them whether they would like more competition for clients, the answer will be "no."

The answer would be "no" whether the average lawyer was making $133,000 per year (which they are according to government data) or whether they were making $13,000 per year.

The answer would be no whether the number of jobs for lawyers was growing by tens of thousands of jobs per year (which it is according to the government) or whether the number of jobs was shrinking.

Lawyers hate competition. And they don't appreciate how good they have it compared to most people in this economy, who are facing much lower pay and a much harder time finding work.

It takes a serious poker face to tell a 20-something with a degree in history or english that he'd be better off financially doing something other than going to law school.

If there are wonderful opportunities for people with humanities degrees, hundreds of thousands of underemployed and unemployed college graduates would love to hear about them.


Sy, if there are about 55,000 applicants for the Fall 2016, that is similar to Fall 2014, which had 55,700 applicants (per LSAC), and 37,924 full and part time students actually enrolling in Fall of 2014 (per ABA statistics). With normal attrition, that will likely result in about 35,000 new lawyers 3 years later, not 40,000-50,000. That may seem like a small difference to some, but the difference between 50,000 and 35,000 is, at least in my opinion, significant.

As to what the divergence between decrease in applications and slight increase in applicants, I suspect that is students making a decision that they are not going to law school unless they get accepted at certain schools (which can be based on prestige, in-state tuition, or a number of factors), as opposed to they will go anywhere.


"Because most legal education is spent training students to think like lawyers rather than to practice like lawyers, the profession requires a lot of on the job training -- especially non-biglaw."

I think another major issue is just that the race to the bottom in law school admissions standards means that many lawyers just won't have the intellectual equipment to think like lawyers. It's not rocket science, but law does require a certain facility, and I have never heard a law school defender actually explain how someone who can't decipher the meanings of simple English passages on the LSAT is going to be able to decipher the significantly less simple passages in statutes and case law.

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