Sunday, January 31, 2016

BLS Projects Rosy Outlook for Lawyers

It's an amazing time to be a law student!

Don't take my word for it.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released a finding that we're at the beginning of a lawyer job boom:
[T]here will be an estimated 157,700 new lawyer jobs this decade, an average of 15,770 new lawyer jobs a year.
A lot of skeptics are going around the internet saying these findings are not good.  For example, notorious scamblogger and pseudo-intellectual donkey chode Matt Leichter uses the word "dismal."

These folks simply don't understand lawyer job accounting.  Sure, in the abstract there may be 40,000 law graduates vying for those 16,000 lawyer job openings, for a ratio of 2.5 law graduates to every job opening.

But, see, many of those graduates simply aren't cut out to be lawyers.  If we had 40,000 job openings every year, lots of people who weren't meant to be lawyers would suddenly wind up being lawyers if for no other reason than to satisfy the perverters of justice who think everyone deserves a job for taking a morning shit like this is some communist daycare.  Only a selfish asshole would want to heave unqualified people onto the market; yet, that is apparently exactly what certain "activists" would prefer with their "glum" and "dismal" language.

Instead, the world we have creates competition, that holy engine of capitalism.  Only about the top third or so of law graduates can land good jobs in this wonderful world of ours.  And that's great.  Because let's be honest: no one wants to hire a 63rd percentile University of Tulsa alum.  No, the only way to protect the lawyer-consuming public is to pump out way more graduates than actual jobs available to make sure that the people who wind up representing others are as qualified as possible.  The winners in our world are battle-tested.

And that's why this lawyer outlook is so rosy.  The bloodthirsty survivors - that hearty third who lands remunerative legal employment - will be well-placed to thrive, pay down loan debt, and enjoy multiyear careers fulfilling their lawyer fantasies.

But don't worry, prospective lemming, you will be in that top third if you work hard enough.   If you don't wind up in the top third, you obviously didn't work hard enough and maybe aren't cut out to be a lawyer.  I'm sure, though, that you'll be at the top of the class; you're a survivor, right?

Remember, even though only 1/3 of the class can land good jobs, everyone can be in that top 1/3.  That's lawyer math, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  16,000 new jobs isn't a depressing limitation revealing the sheer absurdity in our legal education models; oh, no; it's a prize for the elite of the justice squad.

Do you have what it takes?  That's rhetorical - we all know you do.

16 comments:

  1. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingJanuary 31, 2016 at 6:08 AM

    In an economy as large as ours....we are still the biggest economy in the world, 15K jobs is a nothing. It is a rounding error. Read between the lines. This number is telling us that there are NO new law jobs being created. It says NOT HIRING! And all of those boomer retirements? They are not being replaced. Their old positions are being eliminated, especially at the gub'ment level.

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    1. ^^^^^ This! There are literally no lawyer jobs being created at all and the vast majority of law graduates in the past decade or so are basically screwed. I am moving on after the idiotic and tragic decision to try to become a lawyer. I wish all of you the same.

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    2. Many of the jobs being created are temporary jobs. Not what most people go to law school for and no job security. Full-time permanent jobs in the legal profession have probably been stagnant or decreased over the last decade. Since BLS does not keep records on temp vs. permanent jobs, one can only look at the ads for lawyer jobs and extrapolate.

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  2. A newly-minted JD is advantaged in obtaining any kind of problem-solving employment. Those 15,000 annual lawyer jobs are just icing on the million-dollar cake.

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    1. I bet that the local Wal-Mart or McDonald's would offer me triple the regular wage, just because of my million-dollar degree.

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    2. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingFebruary 1, 2016 at 11:58 AM

      Old Guy, for you, I'll bet they'll throw in a small order of fries or small shake drink. Seriously, one advantage over the law is that they are always HIRING!

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  3. The other two thirds can always just deposit their Simkovic premium checks anyway!

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  4. BLS needs to take into account bountiful JD-Advantage™ jobs.

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  5. From the Des Moines Register a couple weeks ago:

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/abetteriowa/2016/01/14/kids-should-wait-attend-college/78739202/

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    1. "...college is far too expensive to treat like a finishing school for the inner poetic soul."

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    2. ^^^^ Love that!

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    3. Thanks so much to linking to that article from the Des Moines Register, I really liked it.

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  6. What is worse is that BLS is counting temporary jobs. The temp model is not pretty - for lawyers that is. A fairly big corporation would pay maybe $175.000 a year over all for a legal counsel, including the cost of employee benefits and bonus. The temp agency will pay an annualized salary in the low hundreds. However, the business model of the temp agency is to sign up lawyers and put them on the "bench" till there is work. The lawyer may end up earning $60,000 to $80,000 in the expensive areas near New York City. That is in a good year. In a bad year, the temp agency has little work for anyone.

    So the business model has turned what was a lucrative profession with good jobs to a temp model with no job security, long periods of unemployment and mediocre pay for a very expensive geographic area. If you went to a top college, you ought to be able to make $70,000 in a full-time permanent jobs a few years out of college with no law degree.

    It is the oversupply of lawyers that feeds a low-paying on the bench model of employment. Low paying because the lawyers are disposable and the ultimate users dispose of them like you take out your trash.

    May be good for business using the lawyers, and good for the temp agency. BLS will annualize the compensation. These temporary lawyers are making $115,000 a year, according to BLS, even though they aren't because they are out of work for long periods over all.

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    1. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingJanuary 31, 2016 at 3:02 PM

      According to Professor Paul Campos, that $115K figure from the BLS does NOT include Solo and micro firm practice, which is half of the legal profession. The BLS figure only includes "pay check" data from the IRS. My law buddies and I in Illinois think 50K for an attorney salary these days in the Golden Ticket.

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    2. Agreed, that the $115,000 BLS median income for lawyers excludes solos and lawyers in micro firms with virtual offices,because BLS finds solos on the household survey and does not ask for earnings.

      When you add in several hundred thousand licensed attorneys whose income figures are missing from BLS data but are mostly very low, and then take into account temporary jobs, you have a picture of a very unhealthy legal profession. 1.3 million licensed lawyers are struggling to fill maybe half a million or at best probably up to 540,000 real lawyer jobs.

      BLS reports need to compare licensed lawyers to the actual lawyer jobs. BLS needs to discuss IRS data on the numbers of solo and micro firm lawyers and their incomes. BLS does not collect this data, but the IRS does and the IRS publishes it. BLS says IRS data is confidential, which is hogwash.

      The problem is that people still think that if you can get into a law school whose name is Harvard or Stanford or NYU or Penn, that you are most likely above the fray here and not subject to the same hardships as are the common people so to speak who went to lesser law schools. That is absolutely not true. Even Harvard and Yale Law do not protect you from losing a job and needing to temp on a bench job at $60,000 to $80,000 a year after your big law firm pushes you out as does your first post-big law job. There is very week demand for recycled lawyers -graduates from the T3 or T6 law schools who lost their jobs. Harvard is going up to 700 graduates a year, Columbia is pushing at 468, and NYU is over 550. These three law schools are the equivalent in enrollment of maybe 12 medical schools.

      This - the temp jobs, the large contingent of un and underemployed and the solos averaging $40,000 a year - doesn't happen in medicine to so many people because the job market is balanced in favor of doctors. Doctors are not stuck in temporary employment, unable to get full-time permanent work as a general matter.

      If you follow med school admissions statistics, the GPAs and MCATs, especially GPAs, are way up from what they were 5 years ago. The public awareness of the law school scam has driven many more people towards medicine and away from law.

      However, people with lesser aptitude and interest in following current events are still going to law school - more than twice as many people graduating from law school each year as there are lawyer jobs. These people are not intelligent and do not read what they need to read. They will pay in blood with their lives one or a few years down the road.

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  7. Note that "an average of 15,770 new lawyer jobs per year" -- is NOT the same as "an average of 15,770 new lawyer jobs per year that pay enough to service the average law school debt".
    Why does the Federal government happily continue to lend unlimited $$ to student-borrowers for law school when job prospects are so bleak for law graduates (by the government's own statistics!)? Does the government not care that many law loans now on the books will never be paid back? Or that unlimited Federal lending is exacerbating the problem?
    If the Labor Department predicts 15,770 jobs, why can't the Education Department limit loans to 15,770 prospective student-borrowers? Or at least set out some sensible criteria to filter which loans to underwrite and in what amounts?

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