This week, the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) released the results of its annual survey. The 2009 report revealed a number of interesting truths about the law student experience; in particular, the number of law students who expect to graduate with over $120,000 in student loan debt rose to 29 percent this year--an increase of 6 percent from 2008 and 11 percent since 2006.
However, the amount of student loan debt does not appear to affect a law student's postgraduate plans. According to the LSSSE report, students at both ends of the debt spectrum ($0 to $120,001+) expect to work in "traditionally lower paying fields like public interest law or government service." Although 17 percent more law students with $100,001+ in student loan debt plan to work at private law firms rather than in the public sector, when the debt is lowered to $0 25 percent more students plan to work at private firms.
From LSSSE 2009 Annual Survey Results
Of course, the current job market has had a large influence on current law students' career decisions, particularly whether to enter the public or private sector. As job opportunities in BigLaw firms disappeared in 2008 and 2009, law students looked to jobs in government, nonprofits and other public interest organizations for positions. According to LSSSE, while from 2006 to 2008 58 percent of students planned to work in private law firms, in 2009 only 50 percent of students plan to do so. At the same time, from 2006 to 2008 only 29 percent of students planned to pursue public interest careers, whereas in 2009 that percentage rose to 33 percent. Earlier this year, I blogged about the surge in applications for federal clerkships—online apps increased by 66 percent in 2009. As LSSSE points out, "It seems certain that fewer new lawyers will land high-paying jobs with private firms in coming years" whether it's because they planned to or not.
With Halloween out of the way, it’s almost time to jump directly into The Holiday Season: Part I, or as some like to call it, Thanksgiving. If you’re a college student, you’re about to get a nice break in the action where you can visit friends and family, get some much-needed rest, and maybe even score some free food (more on that later).
All throughout college, you’ll be making important decisions that will directly impact your career and your future, and having people around you that you can go to for advice, or even just to bounce ideas off of, is crucial. Along with close friends and trusted family members, academic advisors are an integral component to any solid support system.
For many of today’s law students, firm culture, location, and practice area remain the most important factors in deciding where to apply. Recently, students have discovered that evaluating these factors — and making the right choice for their legal career — is easier when opting to apply directly to firms for summer positions.
Every year during the week before Thanksgiving week, we take the time to recognize our public school communities by celebrating American Education Week. Now, this week isn’t just about teachers and students, it’s also about some of the unsung heroes of our education system, including administrative staff, janitors, cafeteria workers, and even our school bus drivers.