I'm at a top school and have seen many of my classmates struggle to find post-grad work. I can assure you that most of them are not aiming too high. That is, unless you consider applying for clerkships at low-level state courts, small law firms, and all types of legal, quasi-legal, and non-legal jobs aiming too high. For non-legal jobs, the JD can actually hurt more than it can help...the idea that it's some kind of all-purpose ticket to a decent job is largely a myth.
As an example, one of my classmates has applied for a bunch of entry level, $30-40K type jobs at universities, non-profits, and government that typically take people that only have a BA. Guess what? Rejected from all of them. Most non-legal employers do not want JDs because they think they are a flight risk once the economy improves or a legal job for them happens to pop up.
Peace Corps/AmeriCorps isn't the answer either. A lot of people here (at top schools) did these programs or something similar BEFORE law school. They are widely viewed as something you do BEFORE a professional degree by the vast majority of employers in most industries so you are not going to fit the hiring profile if you do it AFTER the professional degree.
Further, many law grads might not be eligible to do these programs at this point (used up their eligibility before), and even if they were, it probably isn't a good idea if they want to eventually practice law. The way the legal field works is that if you are out of the legal field for any length of time (say, about a year or more) right after graduation and passing the bar, odds are you face long odds trying to get into it later. Employers will see you, rightly or wrongly, as a "benched player" or someone who doesn't really want to practice law. Well, you can just get a non-legal job after that right? Maybe, but again you face long odds. See paragraph 2.
webbylu87 wrote:I often wonder when you read these articles if the individuals mentioned are applying for non-legal jobs in business or government or if they're "aiming too high." Obviously, you undertake a JD with the assumption that you will find a legal job given that it's a professional degree, however, it's still a widely respected advanced qualification. With things like IBR and PSLF, surely being open to pursuing a little bit more of an nontraditional career path is possible and ITE, could be advisable depending on the circumstances. Also, there are programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps which people could look into post-LS to defer loan payments and buy more time for the economy to recover. ITE you have to do what it takes to get by even if it isn't the ideal. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if there's one thing this economy has been good for, it's been a definite reality check on many people's expectations.