If you have been keeping up with the blogs recently, you have seen that we have been inundated with articles and studies pointing out that salaries are falling for new attorneys, and that the legal industry is losing jobs. You might be surprised to find anyone ballsy enough to pretend that there is good news for recent law graduates.
Enter NaTTTional Juri$t. This sickening publication should be familiar to all current law students or recent grads. At my school, there were bins of it all over the place for people to read between classes. Sandwiched between advertisements for foreign study programs and LLM programs ($$$) you will find the occasional article. Since I graduated I have not had the misfortune of encountering one of these, but someone passed along this article from the website. Here's the intro, and it is quite a hook:
"Recent law school graduates on average have more disposable income than they did ten years ago, this despite higher student loan debt and a worsened job market, according to an exclusive study by National Jurist magazine."
Really?? Despite higher student loan debt and a worsened job market, I should have more disposable income than law grads ten years ago??? THERE IS HOPE! Tell me more, tell me more... like, can I buy a car?
Not so fast:
"But that is not true for graduates who get jobs at the smallest law firms, or for those underemployed or unemployed. Students entering private practice with a law firm between two and ten attorneys saw an 8 percent decline in standard of living from 1998 — largely because salaries dropped from the Class of 2008 to 2009. But, if the students take advantage of the income-based loan repayment plan that took effect in 2009, their standard of living actually increases by 26 percent."So basically their point is this: if you land a job at a big firm, your standard of living will be significantly higher than similarly placed law graduates ten years ago. True or not, this issue is moot for the vast majority of recent graduates. Their second point is that if you work in public interest or government, your standard of living will be a modest 6% better than similarly situated graduates a decade ago. I am almost willing to believe that. Many schools now have loan repayment options for recent graduates in public service (if you can qualify for them), so it is a possibility.
But the misleading conclusion that the study draws is that recent law graduates in general have more disposable income. When so many recent law graduates are either unemployed or flipping burgers, how can that possibly be the case?
I do not doubt that the new loan repayment options have helped some people. But what about the unemployed? Don't they count? You can't publish a study that almost completely ignores an entire, substantial demographic and expect to draw anything meaningful from it. As the NY Times pointed out, the unemployed have become invisible.