Are law students training for a failing sector?

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SmaugTheTerrible
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I saw a similar post about pharmacy and wanted to know more about the legal industry.

When I mean 'failing' of course I don't mean demand for lawyers is decreasing and lawyer will become irrelevant. Only that there is too many law graduates and too few jobs.

Will this improve as the economy picks up?
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Bill_Gates
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Too many graduates in general, obviously if you can excel in your field and set yourself apart maybe enter a niche or growing field you will do well.

Overall for Law, yes it is a declining sector but most sectors are now in the UK lol.
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warrior-1
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Yes! I said this before on this forum but was somewhat attacked by emotional LLB university applicants.

I have a 2.1 law degree from a Red brick...waste of time if you ask me.
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TimmonaPortella
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(Original post by adamsmithqm)
Only that there is too many law graduates and too few jobs.
There are more law graduates than jobs in law. This is only a problem if you can't make yourself an attractive enough candidate to beat out enough of your fellow law students in applications. Obviously getting a decent degree does not guarantee you a job, but I'm not sure why anyone would think that to begin with.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by adamsmithqm)
I saw a similar post about pharmacy and wanted to know more about the legal industry.

When I mean 'failing' of course I don't mean demand for lawyers is decreasing and lawyer will become irrelevant. Only that there is too many law graduates and too few jobs.

Will this improve as the economy picks up?
I am not sure.

Relatively little legal work legally requires a solicitor or barrister. You need at least one admitted professional (but that can be a licensed conveyancer and very shortly a legal exec) to run a probate or conveyancing operation. Likewise you need a solicitor or barrister to conduct litigation. Only advocacy requires significant numbers of admitted personnel.

The reason the legal profession has needed so much growth in the number of lawyers has really been to provide working capital in an industry financed by partners' contributions. We are moving away from this model.

Until about 1980 the largest law firms were limited to 20 partners. Many practices had one or two solicitors but a substantial number of very experienced and intelligent managing clerks who never had the opportunity, usually for financial reasons, to qualify as solicitors. In those days the need for working capital was not high and most solicitors came from a monied background.

If people don't stop paralegalling after a couple of years, they are going to acquire the knowledge and skills of fully fledged lawyers. Why should I provide a training contract to some wet behind the ears university graduate, if for example, I am able to hire a 10 year experienced paralegal who, but for the lack of an enrolment certificate, has the skills of a junior partner? Given that the number of long term paralegals will be finite, why don't I hire that new graduate as a paralegal rather than a trainee solicitor?

If I don't need a trainee to one day be my partner in order to pay out my capital account to allow me to retire, or if that trainee when qualified only wants to work as my employee at an inflated salary rather than invest capital in my business, why should I pay money to qualify them as a solicitor?
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TheBigJosh
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Yes, completely agree. Waste of a degree, shame really.


(Awaits the moaning Law students...)
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TurboCretin
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Most of the material I've read over the last couple of years has been surprisingly unanimous on the basic point: the legal market has changed in ways that won't go back again. You say that you're not asking about whether demand for lawyers is falling, but as I'm sure you can appreciate your question can't be answered properly without addressing that issue.

Apart from that, yes there are too many law grads chasing too few solicitor/barrister jobs. That's nothing new. I do think it likely that there will be some bounce-back of employment following the recession, but it won't return to pre-recession levels.
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Sesshomaru24U
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
I am not sure.

Relatively little legal work legally requires a solicitor or barrister. You need at least one admitted professional (but that can be a licensed conveyancer and very shortly a legal exec) to run a probate or conveyancing operation. Likewise you need a solicitor or barrister to conduct litigation. Only advocacy requires significant numbers of admitted personnel.

The reason the legal profession has needed so much growth in the number of lawyers has really been to provide working capital in an industry financed by partners' contributions. We are moving away from this model.

Until about 1980 the largest law firms were limited to 20 partners. Many practices had one or two solicitors but a substantial number of very experienced and intelligent managing clerks who never had the opportunity, usually for financial reasons, to qualify as solicitors. In those days the need for working capital was not high and most solicitors came from a monied background.

If people don't stop paralegalling after a couple of years, they are going to acquire the knowledge and skills of fully fledged lawyers. Why should I provide a training contract to some wet behind the ears university graduate, if for example, I am able to hire a 10 year experienced paralegal who, but for the lack of an enrolment certificate, has the skills of a junior partner? Given that the number of long term paralegals will be finite, why don't I hire that new graduate as a paralegal rather than a trainee solicitor?

If I don't need a trainee to one day be my partner in order to pay out my capital account to allow me to retire, or if that trainee when qualified only wants to work as my employee at an inflated salary rather than invest capital in my business, why should I pay money to qualify them as a solicitor?
Before I got to university I just always considered it was a whoever works hardest thing gets the job. But I also researched into it and found something similar to your comment on paralegals. If you really want to stand out, you are going to have to be a legal genius which is unlikely for me and others.

My main question, which I'm curious to what your answer is, is what do we do now? You complete your law degree with a 2.1 or 1st. Then what? If employment is low. What do we do now? Doing a job that pays me little for my hours spent working just isn't something I'm willing to consider.

(Original post by TheBigJosh)
Yes, completely agree. Waste of a degree, shame really.


(Awaits the moaning Law students...)
Law student here who totally agrees with you. I think most law students just don't want to admit their degree is useless. I think the prestigious behind studying law is what keeps most in denial. Some see themselves equivalent to medical students. The thing is, you can never have too many doctors.
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Crazy Jamie
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(Original post by adamsmithqm)
Will this improve as the economy picks up?
(Original post by TurboCretin)
I do think it likely that there will be some bounce-back of employment following the recession, but it won't return to pre-recession levels.
To answer this question you need to consider what the current difficulties are in the legal sector and whether they are recession related to the extent that they could be solved as the economy begins to move again.

Unfortunately the answer is that in a lot of practice areas the challenges are caused by changes that will not be reversed as the economy improves. Grayling is absolute committed to ignoring all advice from those who actually know something about the law and is therefore unlikely to abandon his mission to hack bloody chunks off the criminal justice system. This may well lead to the face of criminal legal representation changing, which doesn't necessarily mean fewer jobs, but almost certainly means less skilled jobs. Equally the cuts and changes to family legal aid are unlikely to be reversed. On the PI side of things success fees are highly unlikely to make a comeback any time soon and the portal system is only likely to be expanded, thereby reducing the costs and profits that firms secure from that litigation. Now of course those changes were warranted to a degree, but as a result many firms are becoming more reluctant in terms of recruitment. Very recent figures suggest that Employment Tribunal claims have dropped by about 70% since issue and hearing fees were brought in, and whilst that actually may change because of the severity of those figures, at the moment it is what it is.

Of course not all law is confined to those areas, but they do account for a notable chunk of the legal industry. It should be clear enough that the changes that are causing issues in those areas are, for the most part, unlikely to change. So whilst many firms will be willing in principle to recruit to pre recession levels, the practical changes may force them to think again.

Ultimately many areas of the legal industry are facing challenges, which is not good news on the whole for graduates. The whole recruitment side of things is being squeezed, which has thus far resulted in a wave of overqualified paralegals. All of a sudden your degree may not be nearly enough to secure the job that you want, and as a result you have an extra hurdle in front of you that you potentially weren't expecting.

The upshot is simply that you need to be better in order to get that job that you want. And I don't necessarily mean better in terms of your degree result. You need to be a better candidate, and that encompasses a lot of areas. Law students aren't studying for a failing sector. They are studying for a sector that has become increasingly more challenging, and as a result aiming for a career in it is more risky now than it ever has been, but the jobs are there one way or the other. It's just a matter of being good enough for them.
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3458349058349053
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I once made a post on TSR bemoaning my (lack of) job prospects with a humanities degree. I got a rather cocky response from a law undergraduate stating “I’m a Law student. This isn’t going to happen to me!”

A small minority seem to think the high ratio of LPC students to training contracts is an issue they are somehow immune to. I’m not entirely sure why.

I think it has something to do with that Bill Gates quote about how “success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose”.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Sesshomaru24U)
Before I got to university I just always considered it was a whoever works hardest thing gets the job. But I also researched into it and found something similar to your comment on paralegals. If you really want to stand out, you are going to have to be a legal genius which is unlikely for me and others.

My main question, which I'm curious to what your answer is, is what do we do now? You complete your law degree with a 2.1 or 1st. Then what? If employment is low. What do we do now? Doing a job that pays me little for my hours spent working just isn't something I'm willing to consider.
I think you have to remember that although law is a profession, law has always been a business. There has been a narrow window when some lawyers have been paid a high salary for lawyering but that has, in the history of the legal profession been an anomaly. There are solicitors earning £200K and upwards from legal aid but that is because they are primarily running a business not "doing" legal aid. I think there needs to be a return to the idea that the rewards for being a solicitor are rewards for running a successful business.
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