Sector Portrait: Law
Florida's business courts
Attorneys laud progress in the system but see room for improvement.
» 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, 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.”
|2010 median private practice salaries for law graduates
|Source: NALP.org (National Association for Law Placement)|
“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.