“Popular culture has made a career in law look easy and lucrative. But this is complete fiction.”

Thus begins the Alabama State Bar’s (ASB) informational booklet, “Thinking of Going to Law School?” But wait, it gets better!

Before you go any further, you need to make a realistic assessment by honestly answering three questions below. If you can’t give an honest answer then you really don’t need to continue on this page.

  1. Why do you want to go to law school?
  2. Can you afford law school?
  3. Do you really want to be a lawyer?

Brutal honesty from the ASB. Not sugar-coating anything. The ASB is actually really good about this sort of thing, releasing an annual survey of new bar admittees that hasn’t painted a pretty picture in the recent years. Eventually, the ASB just lays it all out there:

Are you still interested in law as a career because the cold, hard reality is that not everyone is cut out to be a lawyer. And, there is no guarantee that you will find a job as a lawyer. The new reality is that there are fewer positions available for lawyers whether it be in a law firm or in a public service setting. In fact, most law school graduates wind up having to hang their own shingle in order to practice law.

Not everyone is cut out to be a lawyer. Fact. Why this simple assessment is so often glossed over, I don’t know. But far too many people have gone to, and graduated from, law schools – who never needed to go there in the first place. They might have been able to get through law school and graduate, but will never be successful as a lawyer.

Alabama State Bar logoI’m a bit self-interested as I live and practice in Alabama. And I realize that Alabama is not a primary legal market. Not even a secondary one. What happens in the Alabama legal industry isn’t likely to show up in the WSJ law blog.

But I think it speaks volumes that that the ASB is willing to step up and publicly speak out on this issue and the “new reality” facing young lawyers. Especially when so many other Bars seem as though they would just as soon ignore the problem.

If the State Bar in a small market like Alabama can speak out on the issue – why can’t everyone else?

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