(Continuing from Part 2)
Those 2003 times are long gone now - the supply and demand equation has swung back the other way. Now there are far, far more law students than available jobs. (Thankfully, we seem to have reached equilibrium with "number of lawyers" vs. "amount of client work" so we can mostly stop with layoffs now.) Using our average first-year hire GPA model, right now I would put it at about 3.7-3.8, which is the highest that I have ever seen it - or that anyone I have spoken to has ever seen.
Take heed of the impact of the previous economy on law firms - when they felt the adverse impact, they tried lots of programs to minimize the impact (raises, appearance of caring), but there was very little success. You are now seeing the converse with regard to law students. As you would imagine, much of the language that law firms were subjected to as far as solutions to how to solve their problems were very similar to what law students get today. For example:
- "You just have to reach out to them" was told to law firms then and you can hear the echo in the advice that law students are given to "just network more." In 2003, it was people who were selling consulting services to law firms who were saying the mantra - now it is law schools that are selling legal services to law students. It was BS then - market forces were primarily to blame - but law firms are big boys and if they were dumb enough to swallow it, then they should bear the cost. However, law students are young and naive and should not be treated in the same fashion.
- The increase in pay to new lawyers to attract them at that time is now countered with a shift in that law students and new lawyers are willing to work for free or cheap.
- "Offer a better work-life balance" was told to law firms then, but "don't expect work-life balance" is the mantra today. They are really just points on the work-life balance continuum, the position of which point is pretty much dictated by the supply-and-demand.
- Also, take a look at the recent efforts of law schools to inflate their grades to make their students more attractive and contrast it with law firms previously raising their salaries - it's not going to have much impact because everyone is doing it.
Quite frankly, right now is the worst time that I have ever seen to go to law school. If I were presented with the option to go to law school today, I most likely would not go - certainly not if I failed to get a scholarhsip that ensured that I would graduate without significant debt. Like the contest example above, for every 100 competitors, there are only 38 (or fewer) trophies. It is really not a smart move to pay $200K to get in the race right now with those odds. I know that potential law students have all kinds of confidence in themselves and think that they are the best, but so does everybody else - and I think that if you really took a step back you would realize that your confidence in yourself and the outcome is not warranted. There really is not that much to distinguish you from your peers. I know that you have been programmed from birth with miscues that are now conspiring against you to push you to go to law school, but PLEASE, PLEASE take a step back, read up on the impact of supply and demand, and get over yourself. Your future self will thank you.
Continue this discussion in Part 4 here.