When I discuss the state of the legal job market with people outside of the field, one of the most common reactions I get from the over-forty crowd is: “Why don’t you just put out a shingle? In my day you could just put up a shingle and make (fill in the blank) dollars a day/week/month, just by dealing with things like wills or real estate closings, or DUIs.”
Apparently, that mentality is making some inroads with the new generation of law grads. This article from MSNBC claims that 5.7 % of graduates of the class of 2010 who are employed in the private sector work in a solo practice. That number does not seem especially high to me, but it is an increase.
Here are a few interesting parts of the article:
Sounds mostly right, except for the part about not blaming career services for focusing more on maintaining relationship with big firms, when the reality is that the lion's share of law graduates stand little to no chance of ever getting a job at a big firm. The fact that they do that is a large part of the second problem he mentions, which is that schools have to hold out hope that you will get a $150K job, knowing that it is nonsense.
Well, yes. I agree that if you don't want to figure things out on your own (or if you don't want mountains of debt and poor job prospects), you should not go to law school. But I still think that is a failing on the part of the schools. I have said in numerous posts that no one deserves to get anything handed to them. But we are not asking for things to be handed to us. Rather, we are PAYING schools for a SERVICE. That service is not just to hear some egotistical professor blather on about substantive due process. The goal is to become employed, and it is the school's job to prepare you for that position through training and to assist in placement because that is what they advertise. Mr. Street is correct that as a law student you will have to figure all of these things out on your own, but there is no reason that should be the case given the sticker price. Which is the point Mr. Chetson makes earlier in the article.
Do any of my readers have experience with solo practice? Is it really a viable alternative for people who are struggling to find a job?