A report published last month by Wisconsin’s state bar, based on a survey of new lawyers, found that newly admitted attorneys faced “huge law school debt, unemployment, underemployment, or inadequate pay,” along with fewer opportunities for training. The result, of course, is not only economic depression but emotional depression. (Click here to read the Wisconsin Bar article.)
None of this comes as a surprise to me as a clinician at LCL, where financial and career issues have risen in prominence over the years (along with depression) as the factors that often motivate lawyers and law students to come and talk to us. Unfortunately, we don’t have solutions to the basic factors contributing to the current situation, such as the state of the economy or the vigorous marketing and proliferation of law schools generating ever more graduates even as the number of jobs for lawyers has been declining. But it may help to know that, if this description fits your current plight, you are far from alone.
Wisconsin’s report suggests finding ways to reduce costs such as dues for new lawyers and an improved, institutionalized mentoring program (something that has long been needed regardless of economic factors). These measures will not, obviously, do much to correct for the larger problem. What we can offer at LCL is help with the emotional fallout, and support for your process of finding a way to navigate these choppy waters, as well as referrals to resources such as career coaches.
Jeff Fortgang, PhD