Are Law Grads Headed Toward a Dead-End Profession?

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the world in ways we never thought possible, with most countries heading into the biggest recession since 2008. Industries have been hit hard, with many businesses closing or moving online in an attempt to cut costs and save money on overheads. The legal profession has also been hit surprisingly hard, with many lawyers and law students labelled as being in a “dead end” career – why is that?

Law school is expensive and student loans aren’t getting any cheaper, either, so if someone is choosing to adventure into the law profession, then they need to be equipped to handle, or avoid, hitting that dead-end wall that seems to be awaiting a lot of law graduates that had entered the profession. In fact, lots of law graduates now aren’t taking jobs in the legal field, or are taking jobs that are paying significantly less than what they should be getting paid.

Are you thinking of studying law, or are you graduating soon? Here are our top tips!

Specialize Within Your Field

One of the best things about law is that for every major school, there are little nooks and crannies filled with specific niches that need to be filled. Are you a copyright lawyer? Cool, but are you an internet copyright lawyer? As the world continues to explore new avenues to communicate or new ways to accomplish its goals, there are going to be laws that need to be made and people to interpret those laws. This constantly changing landscape creates space for lawyers to further specialize in the field they might have studied in school.

For example, these are some of the many speciality options for a personal injury lawyer:

  • Bicycle accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Brain and spine injuries
  • Bus accidents
  • Car accidents
  • Catastrophic injury
  • Medical malpractice
  • Negligent security
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Product liability
  • Premises liability
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Wrongful death.

If the trend in what type of lawyers get hired for specific listings, then it could turn into a self-propagating cycle: if only lawyers who are specialized in specials niches get hired, then lawyers will start specializing in specific niches and it could be possible to find space for all of the lawyers – space to actually practice law.

Is It Really Over?

The short answer, no. The number of American Bar Association-approved schools is on the rise – is it because it’s answering a set amount of demand from the undergraduates who are looking to go into law? The amount of people graduating from law school is also on the rise to complement the number of schools that are offering the path of study to a JD (Juror’s Doctorate).

The average salary of new lawyers has been decreasing, but it still hasn’t depressed itself down to the amount it was when it was at its worst during the recession. Hiring for an entry-level lawyer and legal office positions is also on the lower side, indicating that there isn’t a need for fresh graduates or paralegal professionals in law offices around the country.

One of the big reasons for this transition away from fully stocked officers is that clients are now able to do their own legal searches – and in some cases (such as bankruptcy) are able to file their own legal documents and claims, making a lawyer a superfluous and expensive tool. In fact, you can get a lot more than bankruptcy forms at the website – access to the forms still doesn’t guarantee successful completion and submission, but with so many legal offices offering free clinics, lawyers are almost totally unnecessary in some cases.

Taking A Hiatus

A lot goes into legal cases even before shoes ever hit a courtroom floor and that kind of required commitment can burn out even the most dedicated lawyer. One easy and simple way to avoid driving yourself, or to suggest to others who might be close, to hitting that wall is to take a break. A hiatus can, in some circles, be viewed as throwing in the towel or giving up on whatever cause you’re championing, but when you’re devoting so much time and so much of yourself to one thing, a break can sometimes be the healthiest choice to make. It allows you to step back and view your situation with an outside perspective instead of viewing it from the eye of the hurricane.

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Special thanks to Eileen O’Shanassy for providing us with this article. Eileen is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking, and you can find her on Twitter @eileenoshanassy.