NR3C1 wrote:1. Do you believe there is a long-term, structural surplus of JDs in the US?
I'm not an economist so I have no idea. I will say that this is not the black/white question that many make it out to be. First, law school has, for a long time, been a hybrid of a professional school and a graduate school. While an auto repair or cosmetology school trains you for a single job and potential students' primary (if not only) concern should be the presence of jobs after graduation, the New York Times isn't writing articles on the lack of jobs for History and English MAs and there is no groundswell calling for universities to shutter all non-STEM graduate programs. Law schools are somewhere in between. Personally, I find it hard to say there is a surplus of lawyers when legal aid clinics are still overflowing and turning away people in need. The problem, as in medicine with general practitioners, may be maldistribution rather than a supply problem.
Also, JD grads have many more options than simply getting hired by BigLaw. You can always open your own firm. Every law school has graduates who are entrepreneurs, CEOs, public policy analysts, and all sorts of other things. That said, my advice is always still to only go to law school if you know you want to practice law (with various caveats and exceptions that are off-topic).
2. If so, how does your school plan to inform current, incoming, and prospective students about it?
I don't plan to do or say anything different than I've always said because my advice has always been to carefully weigh the factors that are important to the individual applicant. There is plenty of information out there, more than ever. I don't think there are many potential law school applicants who aren't aware that the economy as a whole stinks right now and that legal hiring is down. Here at Tech, I think we're positioned well, and I think our students will continue to find employment at rates comparable to the other top law schools in our region. I'm very candid with students I talk to though. NO ONE is guaranteed a job after law school and nothing says that the job you do get will be your dream job. Again, I've always said this, even when times were good.
3. Now that the law school bubble has burst, are you worried about your job and future?
Not in the slightest. I don't know that any "bubble" has burst, but law school applications have always gone up and down. Admissions people that have been doing this longer than I have remember going through this several times before. When I applied to law school in 1999/2000, it was the first year law school applications rose in like 5 years (tried to find the exact figures, but nothing I have available to me goes back before 2004...b/c apparently I'm old). Established law schools like Texas Tech aren't going anywhere (although we do face certain other challenges). Schools that could be in trouble are those that have not been open for very long and were planned during the boom times. They are largely private, for-profit schools whose business models might not be able to handle smaller class sizes and still be profitable. However, there are still many more applicants to law schools than seats available in schools. Schools will have to face tough choices in the next few years regarding how much to sacrifice incoming student quality for revenue. No one starts a law school for the short term, though, so I would be surprised if any shut down in the next 5 years. Like any long term investment, I suspect most will ride this out. It will be interesting to see how quickly some of the announced but not yet open law schools proceed, though.