Since the economic downturn in 2008, the legal job market has been tumultuous at best. Job prospects for lawyers in large firms have been unpredictable, especially for new graduates, with the overall employment rate for new graduates declining over the past 6 years to just 84.5% in 2013.
However, despite decreased job prospects, law schools have continued to pump out graduates at rates never before seen–and then releasing newly minted lawyers into a job market that was stagnant at best. In fact, not only were there more law students, there was even an increase in the number of law schools, with that number rising from 183 in 2001 to 201 in 2013.
A few years after the 2008 downturn, the increasingly negative press surrounding legal job prospects resulted in a decline in the number of law school applicants and a corresponding reduction in the number of college graduates taking the LSAT, down from 171,500 in 2010 to 105,500 in 2014. The good news is that with the reduction in law school graduates and a slight uptick in the economy, the news regarding job prospects has improved a bit since there is arguably less competition for starting positions in law firms.
Even so, recently admitted lawyers are exploring their options and increasing numbers of new graduates are choosing to hang their own shingles, with that number nearly doubling between 2007 and 2013, as shown in the slideshow below. Some astute young lawyers are exploring newly emerging practice areas, while others are wisely seeking out underserved rural areas rather than flocking to the larger cities where competition for entry level positions is fierce and overhead for new law practices is at a premium.
It’s indisputable that the legal landscape is shifting–and with that shift comes new possibilities for recent law graduates seeking to make their mark on the world. There are new and emerging opportunities for solo and small firm lawyers in today’s ever-changing legal marketplace and new technologies make it possible to run law firms more efficiently and cost-effectively ever before. So, whether you’re a new lawyer or a seasoned attorney looking to change your career path, now may very well be the perfect time to hang your shingle!
To help you get started, here’s our list of top 5 free and low cost resources for solo and small firm attorneys. Also useful is our free ebook “Time and Cost-Saving Tips for Solo Lawyers” to be chock full of useful information that will help you get your law firm started off on the right foot.
And you can learn even more about the shifting legal job market in 2015 from our latest infographic below. (As always, we encourage you to share and blog about our infographics and slideshows. You can grab an embed of this slideshow from Slideshare here).