Friday, July 13, 2012

Don't Expect Bank When You Graduate

Lawyering is lucrative, right?

Well, new statistics from NALP--The Association for Legal Professionals indicates that the average starting salary for associates is $78,653, while the median comes in at a round $60,000. Apparently, this is a 35% decrease in starting associates' salaries. Thirty-Five Percent.

Now, maybe you are optimistic and are hoping that NALP skewed the statistics and included all of the broke, homeless law grads in its assessment.

Wrong. Those figures were yoinked from grads working full-time for at least a year.

We all know how much I love comparisons, so let me put this travesty in perspective for you:

The following jobs start at or pay out $80,000 a year or more (depending on location) and don't require seven years of schooling:

-Construction Managers
-Police Officers
-Fire Fighters
-Stock Brokers
-Marketing Managers
-Physician Assistants
-Entertainment Agents
-HS Physics Teachers
-Financial Analysts
-Computer Software Engineers
-Physical Therapists
-Health Service Managers

Yes, these careers all require particularized training and we all know that finding a job is never a guarantee. But what are we doing here, busting our booties at school and at work in the hopes of landing a job that will barely cover our student loan payments? Why don't we pick something equally stimulating, quicker to fruition, and just as lucrative?

I'm not trying to discourage anyone from entering or remaining in the field. Without a doubt, I'm going to keep going because this is an area that I really and truly love. I find it fascinating and I think we all have the potential to do really good work for society once we graduate. But, with the ABA and other lawyerly organizations putting out articles like this, it's a bit difficult not to feel disheartened!

The money-centric coverage of the law profession seems a bit overkill. Are they just trying to discourage people that are seeking bank post-graduation from applying to law school? Or is the field really, truly hurting right now? Has the coverage of the lawyer 'crisis' become as Type A as lawyers themselves?

My 1L class was brainwashed into believing that we would be lucky to secure any summer position, let alone receive a stipend for our efforts. Many of my peers naively accepted the first offer they received out of fear that they wouldn't get anything else. Many of those same individuals received far better offers shortly thereafter. Moreover, there were many more positions available than we were led to believe. Most everyone should have been able to secure some sort of summer employment (paid or unpaid) without bar.

Despite the frenzy of the profession, we just need to put ourselves out there. Opportunities may not present themselves, but they are still out there for our plucking. We will find jobs. As one of my friends Ameetball says, 'All we can do is keep calm and carry on.'


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