A story in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal examined the less-than-rosey employment picture facing current and aspiring law students.
“The situation is so bleak that some students and industry experts are rethinking the value of a law degree, long considered a ticket to financial security. If students performed well, particularly at top-tier law schools, they could count on jobs at corporate firms where annual pay starts as high as $160,000 and can top out well north of $1 million. While plenty of graduates are still set to embark on that career path, many others have had their dreams upended.
Part of the problem is supply and demand. Law-school enrollment has held steady in recent years while law firms, judges, the government and other employers have drastically cut hiring in the economic downturn.
Allan Tanenbaum, chairman of the ABA Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Profession and Legal Needs, who was interviewed for the story, noted that the average law-school debt for students is $100,000, and in the current job market, many “have no foreseeable way to pay that back.”
So while those stats might discourage potential law school applicants, current students are — as they say in poker circles — pot committed. Despite murky prospects, they’ve already invested too much to walk away.
Enter the law student bloggers.
Think about it: Law firms are just now wrapping their heads around online social networking and marketing, and grappling with how to develop those capabilities. In a crowded applicant pool, social media skills are going to be an important differentiator.
Probably the most famous student blawgger exemplar is Rex Gradeless of the Social Media Law Student blog, who built a large a loyal following through advocacy of technology innovation in the practice of law. I thought it might be interesting and useful to start looking for other student voices and other approaches that exhibit aptitude and passion for the medium.
A few of my picks for “Law Student Blogs to Watch”:
Tax Docket (Joshua Landsman) - Congratulations are in order. According to a May 4 tweet, this week Landsman took his last exam and finished his J.D. at the University of Florida College of Law. A pop culture-inflected take on the dryest of topics. Tax info served up with music and celebrity gossip.
Law Student at Last (Anonymous) – An L1 “non-traditional” law student in Chicago. A candid, readable journal of what it’s like to balance work and family while pursuing a dream.
“Problem is, my husband is not on board. He, in fact, believes my choices are harmful to our kids and our marriage! I get that being away so much makes life harder for him and I appreciate all he’s taken on to make this work, but I also believe I am showing my kids that nothing is impossible and it is important to go for your dreams. My daughter, especially, needs to see a woman succeeding at something that is really really hard! I hope my marriage can make it, but if it doesn’t, it was going to fall apart without law school.
So, we shall see – it will be an interesting 3 years!!!”
Dennis Jansen (Eponymous) – University of Minnesota law student and urban explorer/commentator. Probably the most progressive blawg I’ve come across — Edgy/interesting graphics. Engaging. Irreverent but smart. Urban/urbane. Lots of useful links, well organized.
The problem with my international tax law class is that it is far more regulation dense than my corporate tax law or basic federal tax law courses. Things also tend to get “mathy.” Ick.
The Reasonably Prudent Law Student (Huma Rashid) – Blogs about law school experiences, fashion and writing (legal writing, critical theory, essays and fiction). Pivots from a post on “Vintage Finds At Tulle for Under $50″ to an illustrated pyromania-themed meditation on final exams.
So mad skills, right? (Do people still say that?)
For additional recommendations on student blawggers, check out the winners of Clear Admit’s first “Best of Blogging Awards,” announced earlier this week.