China may be the challenging and exciting new frontier for law firms, but Chinese law graduates are facing many of the problems getting law jobs that face their counterparts in America, the UK and elsewhere – graduate numbers rise, but getting a law job is another problem altogether.
Take the case of law graduate Li Xiaoxiao, who will graduate with a master’s degree from Fudan University this year, is not as passionate for the major as she was when she selected it seven years ago, as China news site ECNS reported.
“I have sent more than 100 resumes on the Internet since September, but I’ve received no reply,” said the 25-year-old, who currently works as an intern at a Shanghai law firm.
Li sees her hunt for employment as something like finding a needle in a haystack. It will be hard to stay at the law firm at the end of her internship, let alone become a prosecutor or judge – jobs that require strict qualification examinations.
“I never thought a law major, which is regarded as a hot major in the country, would be such an embarrassment in actually finding a job,” she said, noting that she spent seven years pursuing her degree.
Several legal industry insiders said law degrees became hotter since the central government placed an emphasis on the rule of law last year and began pushing nationwide judicial reform. The market is thirsty for judicial talent, they said.
Only three universities offered a law degree in 1977, but the number has roared to 630 out of the total 2,500 colleges and universities, according to eol.cn, China’s largest education portal.
“Our judicial development requires new talent, especially in international law and foreign commercial law. Improvements in the legal environment are the reason programs have been set up at more universities and colleges across the country,” said Yi Shenghua, a criminal lawyer.
But the employment picture is not rosy. There’s a gap between the programs offered and the real world, said Yi, who has provided career guidance for law students since 2010.
In a report released last year on college graduates, law majors were included in a list of those with high risk of unemployment and low salary prospects. Law even dropped to the bottom in more than 10 provinces, including Fujian.
Deng Yong, a law instructor at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, said that current degree programs are out of step with the market.