The New York Times’ Economix Blog reports that law school application numbers are finally falling, as well as the number of LSAT test takers. The post speculates that the cause of the decreases may be the economic upturn (what economic upturn?), which is allowing people to get jobs instead of having to hide from unemployment in grad school. It also speculates whether prospective law students have figured out that becoming a lawyer may not make one the cash cow one wishes to be. The New York Times itself has previously reported on this.
This is probably very welcome news to law students and recent law grads. Many law grads from my school and other schools have had great difficulty finding jobs in the economic downturn, and have been both frustrated and baffled by the seemingly unrelenting desire of folks to become lawyers, who only make the market even more congested. It has been particularly grating to law students like myself who came to law school with a passion for public interest work, only to see those jobs scarfed up by “deferred associates.” Deferred associates are Biglaw firm hirees who the firm cannot afford to take on full-time right away, so it pays them a very hefty sum to work at a host non-profit/public interest organization until they can take them, all at no cost whatsoever to the host org. No matter how much passion or experience you have, it’s almost impossible to compete with free labor!
It was also shocking to me to learn how many people ended up in law school because they couldn’t think of anything better to do. It’s sad to think that people who don’t care that much about law or helping people may have made it into law school thanks to a good LSAT score while people with real passion, but less standardized-test-talent were left behind. Maybe the ability to satisfy the zealous advocacy requirement of Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.3 should become a consideration in admissions decisions? Just a suggestion.