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Monday, November 18, 2013
Finding a Reason Not to Go to Law School
How about a thousand of them?
The Chicago Tribune reports that a local personal injury attorney Matthew Willens is launching an "Anything But Law School Graduate Scholarship", awarding $1,000 each year to students who pursue graduate studies in a non-legal realm. Publicity stunt? Sure. A thousand dollars a year might buy a grad student some textbooks. But his point is clear.
The legal job market is not improving. Law school applications were down 18% last year. Things are not better for newly minted lawyers. At least not generally speaking.
Is Willens going to turn the tide? Of course not. He is a practicing personal injury attorney (enter venomous internet snipes), and this will raise his profile. Publicly, he's trying to ward students off from the monumental investment in a law school education, given the diminishing returns in the current job market.
He's also making an economic point. If the supply of lawyers outweighs the demand for their services, well, then you have a bunch of unemployed lawyers. The remedy? Fewer lawyers. Go to grad school to do something else.
Each time this conversation bubbles to the surface, it's eventually followed by talk about how law schools can reverse the tide. Sure, leveling out the supply/demand balance will help. But how about better equipping law students to practice law?
Fresh out of law school law students have very few practical skills. Law firms that are bleeding money no longer want to take the several years required to train new associates. Why not churn out law students who have more to offer to the market, and right away?
Seems more effective than a $1,000 scholarship to another grad school, but, touche, Mr. Willens. You got us talking.
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