Female lawyers earn a median yearly income of $85,000.By Victoria Pynchon
It's been such a bad recession for the legal profession that some students have sued their law schools for painting an unreasonably rosy picture of their prospects for employment.
The first of those lawsuits was recently thrown out of Court by a sympathetic but dismissive New York Judge but others remain pending.
The American Lawyer brings us good news for the legal sector which is good news for women's second best paying employment alternative - the law.
The legal sector's employment roller coaster ride continued last month as the industry added 1,000 jobs, according to preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The September data shows that 5,900 more people are employed in the legal sector now than were at the same point last year, and that the industry has seen a net gain of 2,900 jobs since the start of 2012.
Whether the law remains a good career choice for women (lawyers, secretaries, paralegals and the like) will remain to be seen.
The primary deterrent is cost, which has sky-rocketed from a few thousands of dollars at the beginning of my own legal career to tens of thousands of dollars (totaling in the neighborhood of $100K) today.
Fewer Women Law Students
Fewer women are reportedly going to law school, not only because of the expense in the midst of the first recession to cause a significant dent in entry-level jobs, but also because we continue to see so few women at the top.
As reported by For the Defense,
Several factors are likely to blame for the erosion of female law school applicants-the economy, related concerns about student loan debt, and perhaps most importantly, the lack of women in the upper echelons of law firms and corporate law departments.
This stalled advancement coupled with the perception that law school may not be a good investment in these trying economic times could contribute to a long-term setback for women in the profession.
The Rage of Our Present Generation of Law Students
The last time I mentioned law school as an option for women, I was personally subjected to a coordinated online attack by a group of disgruntled law grads.
As difficult as that was on my time and finances (my web site was hacked) I understood the rage of a generation of young people who were promised the world before becoming a class of permanent debtors without any reasonable prospects for landing a job paying enough to retire that debt before their own children consider a college education to improve their fortunes.
Ever the optimist, with the economy ticking up again, law school (at the first tier) may again become a go-to first career step for women who want to control their own economic future.
This past week, I was honored to speak to hundreds of young women lawyers - all of them working - at the 5th Annual Ms. J.D. Conference in Washington D.C. I suspect most of them went to first tier law schools and graduated near the top of their class.
The current set of calculations on the potential benefits of law school for you - unique, irreplaceable, individual you - include not only what tier law school you're likely to gain entry to, but how well you believe you'll do at the primary law school task - reading thousands of stories about people in conflict, applying the rules of law to them, and deciding whether the litigants have a claim for recompense that the law is willing to bother with.
How well you do on the LSAT is a pretty good test of your abilities in that regard even though neither has much to do with the actual practice of law.
Law school is primarily an indoctrination into a particular way of looking at - and analyzing - human relations. "Think like a lawyer" requires a certain contraction of your viewpoint as well as a sharpening of your focus on rights and remedies for wrongs.
For now, I'd take a job after college (not, I must stress, an unpaid internship) in the occupation of your dreams even if that means you're doing low level clerical work.
It's a good idea in any economy to learn what the actual practice of your dream job looks like on a day-to-day basis, what the character of your future occupation-mates is likely to be and how much you believe you can help move the needle of the wage gap from its present sorry state to zero.
Graduate school will wait. Life, however, bizarre, exciting, enticing, complex, frightening, stimulating and often as boring as cardboard, awaits you.
Go get 'em Tigress!
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