Law school… apparently commentary is necessary

So, I noted the major imbalance between those who passed the bar and actual law jobs.  Apparently my readers think I’m not being fair to the law degree.  A few comments:

1) This is people who passed the bar.  Presumably, you don’t take the bar unless you actually want to practice as a lawyer.  Thus, even though a number of people put their law degree in other fields, i.e., running a non-profit that advocates for election reform, I suspect that most people taking the bar actually want to be a practicing attorney.  Thus, there really is a glut of lawyers in that sense.

2) When you are a Political Science professor/adviser you simply see way way too many students who think they should get a law degree because a) it’s an obvious path to riches; b) their parents think they should; c) they don’t know what else to do.  All to rarely do I see students who are actually interested in the law.  I think that’s kind of depressing.  Being an attorney can be a great and noble calling, or putting that law degree to work leading an advocacy organization, lobbying, etc., can also be terrific.  But, I sense that far too many people end up with a law degree as hopeless and adrift as many a person with a BA in Political Science.

3) Personally, I’m a big fan of learning the (social) scientific method and if the goal is just to learn higher-level analytic skills, I think many would be better off with a high quality MA (e.g., in Public Policy or Applied Economics).  Thus, for these reasons I believe too many people are, in fact, pursuing law degrees and I’m not going to back down from that.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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