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More on the Legal Wage Gap

September 25, 2007

In his article Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers, Amir Efrati of The Wall Street Journal provided recent numbers on pay and employment in the legal profession.  The article notes that starting salaries at large law firms are unprecendent, but:

the majority of law-school graduates are suffering from a supply-and-demand imbalance that’s suppressing pay and job growth. The result: Graduates who don’t score at the top of their class are struggling to find well-paying jobs to make payments on law-school debts that can exceed $100,000. Some are taking temporary contract work, reviewing documents for as little as $20 an hour, without benefits. And many are blaming their law schools for failing to warn them about the dark side of the job market.

While salaries at large law firms grew by approximately 22%, income for the rest of graduating classes (around 75% of the class) dropped.

The article indicates that a combination of factors may be to blame, including the legal profession growing less than half as fast as the broader economy; an increase in the number of accredited law schools churning out graduates; and the possibility that law schools are giving applicants a false sense of reality by padding their numbers.

One law school graduate informed the WSJ:

He’s making less money [as a sole practitioner] than at his last job [where he made $32,000 a year] and has thought about moving back to his parents’ house. “I didn’t think three years out I’d be uninsured, thinking it’s a great day when a crackhead brings me $500.”

Bottom line: Don’t become a lawyer for the money. 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. On the flip side permalink
    September 25, 2007 3:35 pm

    I don’t agree that the bottom line is don’t become a lawyer for the money. I think the bottom line is that law school in unaffordable (and they lie).

  2. Abbie permalink
    September 25, 2007 5:40 pm

    I disagree that law school is unaffordable. If you are lucky enough to be independently wealthy, get a scholarship, or graduate at the top of the class and get a high paying job, it is affordable. My point is that you aren’t guaranteed a high paying job just because you graduated from law school and more people should know that.

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