The United States became the world’s first nation with 200 accredited law schools last week, but recent law school graduates are having trouble finding their dream jobs right away.
There were 150,000 students enrolled in law schools last year, — an all-time high, according to the American Bar Association, or ABA.
About 76,000 people applied to the MSU College of Law in Fall 2007, said Tamara Martinez-Anderson, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid.
“We aim at 300 a year because we are a private school,” said Kristen Flory, the communication manager for the MSU College of Law. “We can’t accommodate more.”
Elliot Spoon, the assistant dean for career development and professor of law in residence at the MSU College of Law, said recent law school graduates’ may not get the job they want after graduation.
“We have found that our students are generally able to get jobs,” he said. “The entry level market is not as robust as the lateral market. They will have more choices in a year or two when they’ve been in the market.”
Spoon said he thinks MSU remains competitive in the job market.
“Considering Michigan’s economy and the fact that roughly half of our students stay in Michigan, I think we are doing very well,” he said.
Kaitlyn Sundt, a recent MSU graduate and former president of the MSU Pre-Law Society, said people often think they will make a lot of money right away after graduation.
“I have talked to a couple people that graduated a year ago that still don’t have a job,” she said.
At the largest law firms, median starting salaries were $145,000 last fall, according to the Association for Legal Career Professionals, or NALP. Overall, the median salary for new lawyers is $62,000. For public interest law jobs, new lawyers can expect about $40,000, according to the NALP.
The average amount students borrow to attend a private law school surged 25 percent between 2002 and 2007 to $87,906, and $57,170 for public law schools, according to the ABA.
Sundt said internships are a major part in a law student’s career as opposed to studying abroad.
Graham Crabtree, an attorney for Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C., in Lansing, and a 1977 MSU graduate, said the firm usually hires one to three students every summer in between their second and third year of law school as summer associates. Depending on their performance, they may be offered a job after graduation and completion of the bar exam.
Crabtree said most of the new employees are right out of law school.
He said he could have 15 rsums “with dynamite credentials,” but he can pick only two, and that part of the problem is the large number of lawyers.
“The business climate in Michigan has been terrible,” Crabtree said. “That has resulted in a loss for businesses, including law firms.”
Some are laying people off.
“A lot of them are going to have a hard time. It’s a very tough market,” Crabtree said. “Few people are hiring.”
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