Today’s NYT had a very interesting article asking Is Law School a Losing Game? The article left out one important fact, though, that might help explain why people still go to law school. Here it is:
Unlike the private sector as a whole, legal services has actually added jobs over the past 10 years.
While other industries have been sinking beneath the waves, the demand for lawyers has been rising, spurred on by an increase in regulation and just the sheer complexity of the modern American economy. By comparison, many other industries have been hit by a combination of outsourcing and technology (so has law, but to a lesser extent). As a result, students have been enticed into law school because other options looked worse.
What about pay for lawyers? That’s a difficult question to answer. The BLS publishes several data series on legal wages, but each of them has different pros and cons. In general, the picture is that the median pay of lawyers has been basically keeping up with inflation in recent years, doing a bit better than some managerial and professional occupations, and a bit worse than others. There is no sign, though, of lawyer pay falling off the cliff.