Law Students Face Reduced Opportunity

Law Students Face Reduced Opportunity

Law jobs in the US is a tough market, as numerous reports have shown.  The employment stats for law school graduates has been a depressing outlook for graduates.  the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) shows a steady fall annually for the past six years.

As the Financial Times reports on the situation, figures remain high,  but when the average debt level is assessed, which is around $125,000 from private law schools the situation rapidly becomes grim

At a time when those newly admitted to the bar are struggling to find employment, one might expect to see a shift in applications to other graduate programmes, most notably MBAs, which often attract students with similar profiles and budgets.

However, there has been a decline in applications to both MBA programmes and law schools in recent years, seemingly for different reasons.

The two can be difficult to compare, given that the latter is required for legal practice while the former is not required for business. But their application trends have several similarities, both in their flat or negative growth and in the enduring strength of the most prestigious schools.

The FT report that those in the US taking the GMAT, the entry test for business school, fell to approximately 87,000 last year, down from 127,000 in 2010.

Data from AACSB International, a business education membership and accreditation organisation, show admissions dropped almost 14 per cent over this period.

As one might expect, not all schools are suffering equally. Applications to MBA programmes at top business schools are actually rising as part of a flight to quality. Schools such as Harvard, Stanford and Chicago Booth have therefore been able to become choosier about their entrants, just as top law schools (often at the same universities) have also had fewer difficulties.

As Dan LeClair, chief operating officer of AACSB, says: “In a world like the one we’re in right now, brand does matter.”

But while the decline in applications to law schools appears to have a direct connection to the market for graduates, the roots of the downward trend in MBA applications are less clear.

Data from GMAC show that job opportunities for MBAs remain favourable. But Mr LeClair is quick to note that business education is less monolithic than legal study. Specialised masters operate alongside MBA programmes, giving students a greater diversity of options to choose from.

Source: The Financial Times

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