In response to a post at Law.com's Legal Blog Watch (responding to one of my posts), I explained why lawyers cannot easily strike out into other fields.
A poster named Rhymes with Right said:
"Am I to take it that these bloggers have no other marketable skills -- perhaps skills the acquired during their undergraduate careers? Why not go into that field -- or perhaps courageously strike off into other fields now?First off, the U.S. job market is atrocious in almost all fields right now, not just law. So even if you do have marketable skills in another field, it will not necessarily be easy to find work in it.
Seems to me like they are just trying to cut down on the number of future competitors."
Secondly, after having spent three years in law school, employers will perceive that your skills in those other fields have atrophied (or gone stale) and that you must have forgotten everything you knew before.
Thirdly, even if employers in another field would regard you as being qualified, they will wonder why the hell you are not working as an attorney since the general public perceives that all lawyers are rich. They will assume that you are a loser since you could not find an attorney job.
Fourthly, a great many law school graduates really do not have any other tangible marketable skills. These would be the political science majors, the art history majors, the philosophy majors, etc. It might be tempting to argue that in that case, they should not be complaining. However, they have still been injured because they cannot find jobs as lawyers AND they have $100,000+ of non-dischargeable student loan debt, and they could have spent their three years obtaining a second bachelors degrees in more marketable fields.
Do not underestimate the difficulty of "courageously striking off into other fields" when you already have $100,000+ worth of debt over your head. Is it then a good investment to take on another $40-60,0000 worth of debt to retrain for another field? Retrain for what? What field would you roll the dice on? Even if someone were able to gain admission to nursing school and wanted to become a nurse, by the time he graduated that field would probably be glutted too (or filled with imported Filipino nurses on visas).
I know that finding a job in another field might seem like a piece of cake to someone who has never faced real adversity in the job market or who has never had to involuntarily change careers before or who has never had to confront a depression-era job market, but when you are staring at $100,000+ worth of student loan debt, it is a very daunting prospect that cannot be taken lightly. That further education and training would give you the opportunity to find a job in another field is not good enough; you would want a 95% probability of success.
Is my goal to cut down on the number of future competitors in the legal field? Yes, yes it is, as well as to prevent human suffering. Our society is suffering tremendously from economic waste in the form of unused education, not just in the legal field, but in almost all fields. (Our nation even has an oversupply of PhD scientists, which is a fact that is unfathomable to most laypeople.) This is very expensive and it hurts our nation's economy because money that people might otherwise spend on goods and services ends up being spent on student loans.
In the case of very expensive graduate and professional school, it is in our society's economic selfish interest to produce no more than a 5% or 10% oversupply of graduates. Note that consumers of legal services are not benefiting, price-wise, past a certain point from our nation's huge oversupply of lawyers--many of them are unable to earn a living offering legal services and thus are not part of the legal services market; it's already very saturated.