I was recently approached by a recent law school graduate. This person is not currently practicing law. He is doing something else with his life. He approached me because he had a potential client who was interested in hiring him, but he felt as though he didn’t have the experience to handle the matter.
Ultimately, I decided not to partner with this young grad, whom I don’t know very well. But the episode brings to mind a problem that endemic to criminal defense law, and to hiring a good criminal defense lawyer. I’ve written about it elsewhere.
North Carolina produces far too many law school graduates: 1,123 graduated from ABA accredited law schools in North Carolina in 2011 for just 460 jobs.
While North Carolina is not the worst state for law grads, it is among the worst. Michigan, for instance, had 2,072 grads for just 320 jobs in 2011.
The job market is so bad that I’ve seen Duke University Law Grads interning at the Wake County Public Defender’s Office and interning at small law firms. Four or Five years ago, before the job market turned really bad, that was unheard of. A Duke University grad who wanted to go into public interest law or become a public defender would have his or her pick of a big city – Washington, DC, Chicago, Atlanta – public defender job.
What does this all mean for the person looking for a criminal defense lawyer? There are a lot of people out there who don’t have a real practice, but who have a law degree. They are desperate for work and for clients, and can overpromise and underdeliver.