A Rise in Alternative Careers Is Changing Legal Education

, New York Law Journal


Jill Backer, associate director for employer relations at Brooklyn Law School, writes: Law students are not focused on the same goals as a generation ago. They are seeking out a new type of legal career that is not rooted in the traditional ways and definitions of law practice. The institutions of the legal market need to accept and understand that one way of using a law degree is no less than another. Law schools have to prepare these students as well as they do those engaged in the more traditional practices.

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What's being said

  • Barry

    The obvious reason that a higher percentage of recent grads are in ‘JD-Advantage‘ jobs is that the legal market has crashed. Grads are scrounging for whatever they can get, and schools have strong incentives (and zero disincentives) to classify anything that they could as ‘JD-Advantage‘. To admit otherwise would be to cast doubt on the value of a $200K degree.

    I don‘t have the cite, but I‘ve seen a survey of grads, which among other questions asked if they were actively seeking another job. The ‘JD-Advantage‘ grads had about the same percentage as the ‘Other Professional‘ grads and a bit below the ‘Non Professional‘ grads. They were also far, far above the ‘Bar Passage Required‘ grads. This indicates that ‘JD Advantage‘ jobs are basically a spun version of pure and simple non-legal jobs.

  • Liz Ryan Cole

    Ms. Backer is correct, but if Kaplan had been around a couple of generations ago their survey would have found the same information...that many law students do not intend to use their future law degree in a traditional legal field. US News changed this calculus by valuing post graduate jobs that required a JD and administrators pressured everyone from admissions to career services to change their practices to meet US News' expectations. The career services person who expressed his frustration saying "what is wrong with that boy's parents, he passed the CA Bar, was on law review, and is spending the winter skiing", was simply reflecting the pressure put on students to take a job, so that school statistics would be better is just one example of how the academy has avoided our obligation to those students. Will the US News report keep us from teaching for all our students - those who want a liberal education in the law and those who also want to practice?

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