Reason Not to Go to Law School #42

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on April 28th, 2010 by bl1y

You will not get a big law job.

This year Northwestern sent the highest percentage of its students to the big law jobs almost all law students covet.  But, even at the top of the pack, Northwestern managed to secure these positions for only 56% of its students, and that number includes students who have seen their start dates deferred and might ultimately never start at a big firm.

Yes, we’re in a recession, and hiring is way down.  But, even in a great year, like 2008 where graduates had seen two massive pay increases during law school, the top school only got 71% of its grads into big law.  So, best case scenario, 71%, and that’s the best school in a top hiring year.  It’s all down hill from there.

Now, yes, not all students want to go into big law, and that affects the numbers.  A lucky few will land clerkships, and others will opt to do public interest work or go to a midsized or small firm, not out of necessity, but choice.  Still, the vast majority of law students want the big law job and the big law paycheck, and the odds on getting it just aren’t very high.

Unfortunately, there is not yet any sort of survey that compares the jobs students got to the jobs they would have preferred, so any survey is of only very limited utility.  I knew of two people from my graduating class who were unable to find work at a firm.  One of them, after about 40 OCI interviews didn’t manage to eke out a single callback.  That’s just the people I knew about, so there were undoubtedly many more.  This was at a top 5 school.

You may looking at your T3 school and thinking “Whatevs, I don’t want to work 3500 hours at Skadden or Cravath.  You can’t pay the loans with prestige.  I won’t look at the super-prestigious firms, hell, I won’t even look at the top 100!  Big-ish Law, here I come!”

The survey data doesn’t consider Big Law to be the mega-prestige houses, or even the AMLaw 100.  “Big Law” for these purposes are the largest 250 firms.  That’s like considering a “top law school” to be anyone in Tier 1 or 2, or Sarah Silverman to an HB10.

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