Most law students are already painfully aware of this, but there’s sort of a glut of law school graduates right now. That’s causing anxiety for job seekers who possess expensive law degrees, who rely on a resilient job market to support their intense need to get good jobs and pay back their student loans.
Oversaturated Legal Job Market Causes Stress for Schools as Well as Students
It’s also causing anxiety for law school administrators, who rely on their graduates to make them look good. After all, who wants to invest in a law degree in a school who’s job placement stats don’t look good?
It’s true of most schools, and it happens to be one of the measurements by which they’re judged. “Our graduates find high-paying jobs quickly after graduating” or “our career office finds good jobs for graduates of our program”….are typical sentiments you’ll find in school brochures.
That’s why some law schools are getting proactive and providing extra training for their students. In an article published by the New York Times, it was reported that business and technology are making their way into law school curricula across the country.
Entrepreneurship for Law Students
One such school is Michigan State, where each summer they hold their Entrepreneurial Lawyering Startup Competition. Students pitch startup ideas to judges, real-world style, and winner are chosen.
This type of activity would be completely foreign and unrecognizable to lawyers who went to school just a few years ago, not to mention decades ago. Traditionally, law school is about …well, law. Learning business and technology used to be unheard of, even considered “below” what law students should be concerned with. Torts, contracts, and history are now sharing the curriculum with technology that can help a new lawyer gain an edge.
Such technology includes software that helps them review documents, or software that predicts “worthiness” of various legal arguments for a particular case.
Tradition Makes Way for New Curricula
The law profession is partly built on the notion of tradition, of course. Lawyers are taught to rely on the past to predict the future, and while that hasn’t changed, some advocate shaking things up a bit. What many schools would like to see is not simply more technology being taught, but the point is rather practical training.
In other words, some schools are proposing that they train lawyers to go out and provide some low-cost legal services, not just cream-of-the-crop specialties for high-paying clients. According to the Times article, Indiana University’s law school is leading the way in this movement. They want practical training for their students so they can go out and become providers of low-cost legal services, not “expensive, artisan-trained lawyers”, as they put it.
While this sounds …practical…it’s still not free. And who wants to pay for a law degree that trains you to make as little money as possible? Doesn’t every lawyer dream of someday providing top-notch services to high-paying clients? Indiana University may be barking up the wrong tree for law students, but maybe the right tree for some other type of degree, if the price is right.