The OPIA Blog

A Law School Surplus?

With the provisional accreditation of two new North Carolina institutions last week, the United States became the first country in the world to host 200 law schools. Quantity, however, does not necessarily produce quality, explained a recent AP article. The proliferation of law schools has resulted in a surplus of lawyers, many of whom are having an increasingly difficult time finding work. This has led to the rise of “contract attorneys” – essentially lawyers working temp jobs at modest hourly rates. In addition to poor working conditions and the lack of job security, this temp work usually consists of monotonous tasks outsourced by law firms.

Lured by the promise of high earning potential and guarantees of employment, many students enroll in law school without doing adequate research. Universities, for their part, have also been somewhat disingenuous in their efforts to establish law schools and attract students. Because law schools feature big class sizes and small financial aid packages, they are a cost-effective and even lucrative option for many schools. Law school rankings have also had a damaging effect on the legal education system, as schools often exaggerate, underreport, or otherwise skew statistics to make their graduates seem more financially successful.