As a soon-to-be 3L, the thought of finding a job in today’s economy is very overwhelming. It’s not just the lack of jobs in the market that frightens me, but also the school loans that I will have to start repaying.
When I started law school, I thought I might work in a law firm for a while to pay off a sizable portion of my loans and then pursue my real interest in public interest work. This line of thinking is common among my fellow students, and unfortunately, the reality of paying for a legal education does prevent many from taking public interest jobs.
At an ATJ public hearing this past summer, a South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) attorney cited SCLS’ inability to attracted new law school graduates with better salaries as one of the barriers preventing SCLS from expanding its operations and providing more legal representation to the indigent of South Carolina.
While I’m sympathetic with the fact that many associates at large firms are losing their jobs, maybe the economy will prompt law firms to restructure the way they compensate employees (i.e., smaller salaries in order to avoid layoffs), which in turn may lead more new law school graduates to accept positions in public interest work, knowing that they will not necessarily be passing up a much bigger and better salary that would help them repay student loans.