Which Law School Grads Have It the Worst?

How bad is the job market for graduates of top law schools? Worst in 50 years, reports the New York Times. Job fairs at top schools like Yale and Harvard are getting stood up by cash-strapped firms. The story at top East Coast law names is a slew of slashed hirings, delayed starts, and canceled recruiting. The twilight of the recession still means dark days for even the nation's most illustrious firms and it all boils down to thousands of law school grads getting crushed with nowhere to start chipping away at six-figure debt. But what really surprised me about this article was who has it the worst...


It's not the 2009 grads, or even the 2010 grads -- it's the current second-years, says the author. Here's the reasoning:

The timing is worst for the class of 2011, the second-years now looking to get into firms, because of a unique logjam created last year. After the September financial crisis, firms chose to defer their new hires at the price of steeply cutting recruiting this year.

With the top firms feeling the worst of the crunch, students are expanding their job search to smaller firms and even government work. At the Social Security Administration, applications have jumped 150 percent.

This is truly horrible news, but in broader context, it's just another chapter in the larger story that we've never recorded worse job search conditions ever recorded in American history. As I wrote here, the Great Recession has gutted workweek hours to a record low, pushed part-time work to a record high and created the worst hiring rate we've ever recorded. It's terrible, but not terribly surprising, that high class law firms are feeling the same pinch as the rest of the economy.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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