Becoming a lawyer seemed to be one of those career moves that could stand up to any type of economic setback.
The jobs would always be there, as most people, it was assumed, would need a lawyer at some point in their lives-and a downturn in the economy would likely last no more than it took to graduate from law school.
That's no longer the case. Because of the recession of 2007-2009 and a still-struggling economy, the legal profession is under severe stress. Besides not having enough positions for current lawyers, there are too many upcoming law school graduates and too few jobs to employ them.
"We never saw it like this just a few years ago, but now I've seen it first hand," said Ron Lieberman, a matrimonial lawyer the in New Jersey firm of Adinolfi & Lieberman in southern New Jersey. "There are too many lawyers and too few jobs. We just hired someone, but we didn't look very hard, and she was doing volunteer work."
He added: "I'm not sure it's going to get better any time soon."
The legal profession, like many others, has been downsizing. It's boosting productivity of current staffers, rather than hiring new employees, analysts say, and anyone newly hired is likely to be doing so at half the salary than that of a new hire just four years ago.