Why the law’s no safe haven

Why the law’s no safe havenThe law: more popular than banking. Our report that the number of applications to law schools has rocketed since the credit crunch is an illustration of the entirely human instinct for self-preservation.

As students see it, the law may not earn you quite the same bucks as investment banks, but it’s safe. Right?

You, dear reader, know different. The past decade has been the legal profession’s baby boom. Firms aren’t yet cutting back on trainee recruitment, but if the pessimism of managing partners is anything to go by, opportunities for those entering the ­profession now look rather more limited.

In 2007 The Lawyer, in association with YouGov, polled more than 3,000 lawyers in one of our ­regular research projects. Then, some 31 per cent of associates wanted to leave the profession. It was at the height of the boom, when there were jobs ­aplenty. Our next survey is being sent out soon. It will be interesting to see how many people want to leave the law now.

Considerably fewer, I suspect.

Taking the temperature of the sector, from ­students to senior partners, is a fascinating process. Our colleagues Husnara Begum and Corinne McPartland of our sister title Lawyer 2B have been spending gruelling days at law fairs around the ­country. They’ve been talking to undergraduates and LPC students, finding that, unremarkably enough, students are utterly oblivious to the credit crunch.

Now most 20-year-olds probably have other, more primal things on their minds than macroeconomics. However, for a generation that has been raised on tales of riches, it will take a while for reality to sink in. Indeed, plenty of graduate recruitment heads are privately frustrated at Generation Y, which has been used to having everything on a plate, and hope the credit crunch could be the making of its members.

The students Lawyer 2B have met have yet to develop that awful sense of entitlement that plagues a minority of commercial lawyers. As you can see from their blogs on the revamped Lawyer2B.com, their enthusiasm and energy is invigorating.

Law isn’t the only profession to have seen ­applications soar, by the way. The other is teaching. Now, doesn’t that give you a warm glow?