Friday, January 8, 2010

Okay. This is difficult. Reality check on the job market.

Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a couple of articles on law students, the job market, debt burdens, and managing expectations. The articles say it like it is, which is not always easy, and they have some solid advice for law schools when it comes to preparing law students for the market.

A few snippets are below, but click on the links to read the full articles.

Law Schools Get Advice on Helping Students Cope With Tight Job Market:

"Law schools have a responsibility to teach students how to be emotionally resilient and fiscally sensible at a time when high-paying jobs are hard to come by and student-loan debts are mounting, several speakers asserted at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, which began here on Thursday.

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Students should also be wary about taking on too much debt, said Jeff Hanson, director of borrower education services for Access Group, which specializes in graduate-education loans. He said more students today were borrowing money for law school—and in larger amounts.

He said more unemployed law-school graduates were also seeking to postpone repayment of their loans. Many of them end up in forbearance, which means that interest charges continue to pile up even if they aren't making payments."

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Law Students Adjust Job Expectations to Accommodate Economic Downturn:

"Many law-school students tossed aside their expectations of working in lucrative private firms last year, instead opting for lower-paying public-interest jobs, according to an annual survey published today.

The Law School Survey of Student Engagement—part of the family of assessments by the National Survey of Student Engagement—got responses from more than 26,000 law students at 82 law schools in the spring of 2009. The research effort, which is in its fifth year, is led by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research.

This year's survey found that the percentage of law students who expected to work in private law firms dropped to 50 percent, down from about 58 percent in each of the previous three years. The percentage of law students who anticipated finding work in the public-interest sector rose to 33 percent, from about 29 percent in each of the past three years.

The findings "may indicate that law students are reframing their career expectations in response to changes in the economic climate that have affected hiring at many law firms," said Lindsay Watkins, the survey's project manager."

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