How well are law graduates doing?

Commenter Gluggy is presenting a very negative view of employment outcomes of law graduates. I don’t have unemployment figures (though given low overall graduate unemployment it is hard to imagine law graduates are an exception), but I do have some 2006 census data. I’ll look at male graduates, as they are more career-oriented.

Occupations of male law graduates 2006


Among male law graduates, by their late twenties a majority have legal jobs. The figure for those aged 20-24 is artificially low, as another 14% had jobs in the ABS category that includes articled clerks. Except in that youngest group, they equal or exceed the overall average percentage of graduates in managerial or professional jobs of around 75%.*

Income of male law graduates 2006
Income image002

Income results are also positive. With this graph I had a comparison with graduates in general, and as you can see a weekly income income emerges in their late twenties and is wide through their careers. Indeed, this graph understates how large the gap is, as most ticked the highest census category of earnings of $2,000 a week or more.

I don’t doubt that Gruggy can name individuals whose law degrees haven’t done them much good. But this isn’t the typical picture, and the interest of students in studying law seems justified overall.

*Having cross-checked against the original data source, this includes 11% who are not in the labour force. Among those actually with jobs, by the late 20s 59% had legal jobs, rising to 2 out of 3 aged 45-64, and 80-90% depending on age group have managerial and professional jobs. These are well above average outcomes.

51 thoughts on “How well are law graduates doing?

  1. James, I respectfully disagree. In every interview I’ve managed to get with an agency, allt they have asked about is where I have worked, not what I have done
    You can see it for yourself when you see ads for corporate law positions where they say ‘must have top tier law firm experience’. These ads are quite common, and simply are saying ‘we dont care what you know, only where you’ve worked’.
    It got to the ridiculous stage where I went back to university, did a postgraduate degree (with a high distinction average) in IT, then worked in the private IT market doing nothing but only IT law, only to find I could never get an interview for any other IT law positions because I ‘hadn’t worked at a top tier firm’.
    Law is the only profession which is totally unconcerned about what you actually know, but whether you have worked at the right firms or not.
    Big law firms only make the money they do because their customers – usually either governments or public companies, are spending taxpayer or shareholder money and tend to be far far more profligate than private clients spending their own money.
    Its time for reform, shut all the law schools and remove all subsidies for higher education- we’re just wasting people’s time.


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