Drop in Applications to Law Schools Blamed on Recession and Overabundance of Lawyers

There have been many stories about this coming from the U.S. But I wanted to know more, so I figured I would look for some lawyers in the sue happy state of California. So naturally, and of course, Googled “Los Angeles personal injury attorneys”. Low and behold, I found Michael P. Ehline, Esq., who represents himself as a vacation accident lawyer. He gave me some info on how the recession has affected him and his friends, and we need up becoming friends. In fact, I can now vouch for him, and have added him as a friend on Google¬† He actually reported back to me on this one with some pretty interesting facts. Ehline said that beginning in 2005, the applications to law schools began to drop, and they are still dropping (View Source.) In fact, research indicates that there are approximately 12.5 percent fewer applications for admission, according to the Law School Admission Council. (Source.)

There is a Surplus of Attorneys in California

Ehline says that he has lawyers calling him seeking work daily. And mind you, these are attorneys with vast legal experience. The surplus of attorneys and the recession are both held responsible for the drop in applicants. Ehline says his research indicates that this has resulted in several law schools offering more scholarships and cutting the class sizes. The total number of students as of August 8th, 67,957 submitted 469,642 applications to ABA-certified law schools, according. The number of applicants is 13.7 percent lower than in 2011, which hit the Midwest hard.

Firms are Outsourcing Due to Out of Control Court and Other Costs

Ehline said that California in particular is top heavy with tax payer supported bureaucrats. In order to pay salaries, and other bloated costs, like public sector retirement pensions – that are higher than what the private sector can offer -lawyers like him have no choice but to seek California lawyers who live in tax friendly states where they can afford to live. “They even make you pay for your own court reporter in tort cases now,” Ehline said. You heard right, to get a court of record in a civil case, you pay for it!

Wow! In fact, according to Wendy Margolis, director of communications for the Council, large law firms known for paying the highest salaries, have down-graded hiring or have begun outsourcing legal work to other countries. In the face of a recession, clients are not prepared to pay as much for legal representation or assistance. There have even been some legal firms that have closed.

Many Students are Considering Other Careers

Legal experts say that students are reconsidering, if a law degree and the cost of law school is worth the $100,000 to $150,000 expense. Margolis said this differs from other recessions in the past, when enrollment has risen, with individuals pursuing a professional degree to increase job prospects. Uncertain prospects and the accumulation of a large debt, students have determined is not a way to deal with the economic downturn, she said. During 2002 and 2003, the number of applicants was high, with over 100,000, then in 2004 there was a drop of 4.8 percent, and again in 2005 and 2006, with a 7.4 percent drop.

It was assumed the market was correcting, until the numbers continued to drop through 2008, when the recession hit hardest, according to Margolis. In 2009, when the economy seemed to improve the number of applicants rose, but was only temporary, since in 2011 they fell by 10.7 percent. This was after firms began to lay off attorneys and scaled down hiring.

Salary for U.S. Lawyers Has Dropped By 5%

Another striking event that occurred is the median starting salary for the newly graduated law student has dropped about 5 percent for law graduates of 2011. According to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), salaries have fallen since 2009, from $63,000 to $60,000. NALP executive director, James Leipold said the median starting salary in the private sector has plunged 35 percent. Law school graduates gaining employment was 49.5 percent in law firms, which is lower than the 50.9 percent of graduates in 2010 and 55.9 percent in 2009, Leipold said. In 2011 at the UI, out of 190 law graduates 152 found jobs, which is approximately 80 percent. Only 51.3 percent of these jobs were at law firms, with 34 jobs being short term and 11 of them were funded by the UI.

Out of the employment found 119 required the individual to have a law degree. The Class of 2010 195 UI law graduates, 170 found work, which is about 87 percent, with 11 being funded by UI. This included 159 full-time employees and 142 required a law degree. The employment of 54 percent was at law firms. The job placement numbers for spring 2012 law school graduates will not be released by the ABA until February 15th and these job placement figures in the past were prior to the recent college scandal. Dean Bruce Smith, of UI College of Law said, law student graduates are going to need to be extremely strategic in their employment hunting in the future.

Smith said a course was started in Chicago during the summer to educate students about changes in the legal profession that he believes is growing globally. Smith said that today pretrial discovery work is being outsourced to the Philippines, India and other countries. This will affect employment domestically, but at the same time it opens up prospects abroad. One law school graduate found his first employment in India. James McCaughan, a third-year UI law student said that some of his friends that are graduates are having difficulties finding employment.

Alternatives to Law school

Ehline said that students should consider alternative programs such as the California State Bar Law Office Study Program. This is a traditional internship, such as their first Supreme Court justice John Jay, and their later president Abraham Lincoln underwent, wherein you can learn by doing, rather than from the Socratic method. If you want to know more about California, or Los Angeles legal issues, I recommend you give him a ring at Ehline Law Firm PC at 633 W 5th St. #2890 Los Angeles, CA 90071. 213.596.9642. Michael P. Ehline, Esq.

About Author


Ehline Michael
Michael Ehline is a prolific blogger on California and international tort law. He has been a guest on CNN, discussed in major news publications like Forbes, Circle of Legal Trust, Personal Injury Warriors, and International Cruise Victims. He has lobbied congress on behalf of injured consumers, served as a United States Marine, and won millions of dollars for his clients. This blog discusses Ehline's insights and musings on all aspects of negligence law as it relates to all things "accidents." Ehline can be reached at (213) 596-9642.