What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession

82 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2015 Last revised: 7 Apr 2016

Deborah Jones Merritt

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: January 30, 2016

Abstract

Poor employment outcomes have plagued law school graduates for several years. Legal scholars have debated whether these outcomes stem from macroeconomic cycles or from fundamental changes in the market for legal services. This Article examines that question empirically, using a database of employment outcomes for more than 1,200 lawyers who received their JDs in 2010. The analysis offers strong evidence of structural shifts in the legal market. Job outcomes have improved only marginally for the Class of 2010, those outcomes contrast sharply with results for earlier classes, and law firm jobs have dropped markedly. In addition to discussing these results, the Article examines correlations between job outcomes and gender, law school prestige, and geography. In a concluding section, it offers four predictions about the future of the legal market and the economics of legal education.

Keywords: Legal Education, Legal Profession, Structural Change, Employment, Gender, Empirical

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Merritt, Deborah Jones, What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession (January 30, 2016). Michigan State Law Review, p. 1043, 2015; Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 290; HLS Center on the Legal Profession Research Paper No. 2015-3. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2577272 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2577272

Deborah Jones Merritt (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-247-7933 (Phone)
614-292-4868 (Fax)

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