IS LAW SCHOOL FOR YOU?
As an injury lawyer running my own firm for over 13 years now, I am often asked if I think someone should go to law school. In general, I discourage it. Here is why.
Back in the mid-1990s, when I graduated, jobs were plentiful enough that most of my peers were employed before graduation. Even as recently as 2007, some statistics showed that a whopping 91% of law school graduates were hired, and usually at very good compensation rates. But just two years later, in 2009, full time legal placement was reported at only 65%.
Let’s do some math here. Average college grads are already carrying $26,000 in student loan debt when they earn their sheepskin and might get accepted to law school. Then, average school debt for newly minted law school graduates is $100,000.
So, the average hopeful lawyer-to-be may have $126,000 in debt, plus interest, riding on his or her ability to land a very scarce legal job!
But this is what they find: Insurance companies have fired large firms and gone in-house with their lawyers. These able attorneys are on salary and thus, costs are held down, and insurance defense firms that once hired many top grads have shrunken. Travel costs have also been cut. There was a time that if a large insurance company asked their attorney to travel overnight, he would bill “portal to portal.” In other words, billing would begin as he exited his door and continue till he returned to that door. Now, travel is often expected to be absorbed as a “soft cost.” Software and web-available forms are now to the point that some review and document drafting is automated. India has lawyers that will do some of the tedious work for 20% of an American attorney’s pay. Insurance companies and large clients also have services review attorney billing to cut costs anyway they can. Many lawyers will tell you that their rate has not increased in ten years!
So, is law school for you?
In this climate, or any other, I would say only if you are called to it. If not, there are easier ways to make a living. If you like to argue, salesmen get more opportunities to do that than attorneys. If you like to analyze, reporters and accountants do that more than lawyers do. If you like the idea of changing people’s lives, social workers and nurses have much more daily ability to do so.
But if, like me, you are called to plead the case of the injured, little man against the Goliaths of the world, you must go and go now.
Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.