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Determining Who Is in Better Position Right Now: Law Students or Lawyers in Working World?

October 8, 2009

It is now early October, and the school year for area law schools is over a month old.  Meanwhile, in the working world, it has been a little over a year since there was a significant downturn in the legal market.  The question is where would your average  young lawyer rather be right now: in law school or in the working world.

Not too long ago, the answer was easy for me and many others: law school.  Where else can you relive a college-type environment with everyone being of age and having a greater sense of freedom than college?  Then, life as a summer associate was also great (if not completely realistic of working life).

Now, of course, law school life isn’t as rosy a picture as it was.  In addition to paying between about $17,000 (at Temple for in-state students) to $42,000 (at Penn) per year for tuition, you have an uncertain job market.   Several law firms have ceased their summer programs.  Many more have decreased the number of available slots.  And quite a few are offering full time jobs to only a fraction of their summer classes.   The one saving grace is that there’s hope that things will improve by the time the newer law students look for jobs.

Of course, for those of us in the working world, many of us are now “in transition” (the euphemism for those laid off, terminated or otherwise out of a job).  Those with jobs are constantly worrying about possible changes in job status and even salary.  Very few people are safe.  There’s no definitive signs of improvement in the legal market.

Personally, I think I would prefer being in the legal working world already.  We’ve already seen both good and bad times.  We know that things go in cycles and at some point, things will improve.  Our work experience also provides a leg up over those just coming out of law school for employers to consider.   That said, I think we all hope that improvement comes sooner rather than later for the sake of all current and prospective lawyers.

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