In recent days, many people have started to speculate that the number of people considering the law as a career option is starting to wane. In the past decade, the number of people applying to law schools has steadily grown. However, the 2011 academic year is the big exception. The number of applicants to law school plummeted over 11 percentage points in a single year, according to the Law School Admission Council. That dramatic dip caused many to speculate that the law school bubble is close to bursting. However, is that the reality of the situation? If so, what might be behind it?
In the past decade, the number of law degrees climbed over 13 percent. Each year new law programs opened up with plenty of people applying. However, what awaited the students once they received their Juris Doctor at the end of the program? That reality is what indicates the troubles.
What is the reality that students faced once they exited with a diploma in hand?
1. There is a glut of new legal graduates and not enough jobs for them to fill.
2. Many big law firms have lowered hiring numbers due to the recent economic problems.
3. Many students exit law schools with crippling debt.
4. Due to the large number of applicants for a single job, the job openings available often come with lower wages than a graduate might expect.
5. Recent graduates are competing for lower level positions with experienced attorneys.
This reality may be the core of why the number of applicants to law school has taken a dramatic turn downwards.
Another reason for this downward turn is the gradual lessening of the economic troubles. Many chose to go immediately into a graduate program after completing a bachelor's degree. They thought they could not find jobs with just a bachelor's degree. With certain sectors starting to pick up steam, many find they can get jobs with their bachelor's degree. That is also contributing to the downward turn.
Does this explain why the law school bubble may be close to bursting? One of the big reasons may be the media attention that has gone on towards this topic. As the number of applications started to climb and the number of openings started to decline, some major media outlets started to sound the alarm. That brought attention from students, faculty, and advisors.
Is the law school bubble close to bursting? It likely is. However, the legal profession will continue and students will continue to study the law.