April 24, 2018

Sector Portrait: Law

Florida's business courts

Attorneys laud progress in the system but see room for improvement.

Young Blood

» It’s a buyer’s market for young legal talent.

As the recession has forced law firms to do more with fewer resources, many young law school graduates are finding slim pickings as they look for jobs.

Pascale Bishop
Pascale Bishop, assistant dean of career development at UF’s law school, says generally only top-ranked graduates are landing jobs within six months of graduating.

Large firms such as Holland & Knight say they are hiring 30% fewer new associates than just five years ago, and many midsized and small firms look almost exclusively at hiring experienced attorneys. Government agencies have cut back on hiring law graduates as well.

Meanwhile, with 11 law schools in Florida graduating more than 1,200 students each year — and with a 12th, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, to open this summer — the state’s legal market is one of the most saturated in the country. Young grads who could expect red-carpet treatment and signing bonuses now compete for fewer jobs at lower pay.

There are, of course, exceptions. In May, Jesse Unruh graduated summa cum laude from Florida State University College of Law and immediately went to work at Tew Cardenas in Miami. The 27-year-old believes his experience as a systems analyst and his high law school ranking “really made a difference.”

Salary Report
2010 median private practice salaries for law graduates
Starting salary
Fort Lauderdale
Jacksonville 55,000
Source: (National Association for Law Placement)
Pascale Bishop, assistant dean of career development at UF’s Levin College of Law, says the new hiring process has made it difficult for law school students to gauge their prospects, and most won’t even be considered for employment until after they pass the Bar exam.

“They want the security of having a job at graduation, but the market is making them wait,” Bishop says. More often, only the top-ranked graduates are offered law jobs within the first six months of receiving their degree, and Bishop says more are looking at using their law degrees in alternate careers.

Tags: Politics & Law

Digital Access

Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single digital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.


Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Grand Opening of largest baby leaf greenhouse in U.S.
Grand Opening of largest baby leaf greenhouse in U.S.

Approximately 180 guests attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at what Hamilton County Development Authority Executive Director Susan Ramsey says is the largest baby leaf greenhouse complex in the U.S. 

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Which type of tourists benefits your business most?

  • Snowbirds
  • Spring breakers
  • Summer tourists
  • All of the above
  • None of the above

See Results

Ballot Box