August 10, 2012 back to legal education
Normally I try to keep my big mouth shut about legal education, because I figure that people who will be evaluating me at work know more than me. But where the facts speak for themselves I’ll make an exception.
According to NALP, this recession has been primarily a big-firm recession. In 2008 (pre-recession) 43 percent of new grads worked in law firms of over 100 people- today, only 27 percent (still more than in 1982 when only 15 percent did). By contrast, firms of 2-10 and 10-25 have rising market shares; 54.7 percent of employed grads are in these two groups as opposed to 41.8 percent in 2008. 6.1 percent are solo (up from 3.5 pre-recession).
Is this unprecedented? Sort of yes and sort of no. During the early 90s recession big firm employment dipped from 30.8 percent of grads (1990) to 22.2 (1993)- not as big a decrease as in this recession. Again, small-firm employment increased during this period (or perhaps decreased less rapidly).
Lesson: don’t blame LegalZoom (software that makes it easier for people to avoid lawyers, and presumably would affect small-time practitioners more) for grads’ job problems. Blame the economy as a whole, which affects BigLaw.