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Job Prospects Are Grim; Should You Move? 5 Things to Consider

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on September 17, 2014 9:19 AM

With job prospects still fairly grim for recent law graduates, you might be asking yourself, "Should I move somewhere else?"

It's a decision fraught with questions if you don't have a job offer, and even more fraught with them if you do. Where should you move? And is it a good idea?

Here are five things you may want to consider:

1. Is Your Degree Portable?

Graduates from T14 schools are in luck: Theirs are considered "national" degrees that can go anywhere and be meaningful. Outside T14 -- or, roughly, the T30s -- the degrees are considered more "regional." If you went to Florida State University, for example, your degree isn't as portable as if you went to Georgetown. Partially, it's because people outside the area just don't know as much about the program, and partially it's because the alumni concentration fades the further away you get.

2. What's the Cost of Living?

You might be asking what you're still doing in New York or San Francisco when you could be living somewhere far cheaper. Even working for a BigLaw firm in a smaller market could dramatically decrease your cost of living. In 2012, Justice Scalia advised new graduates to take jobs in Cleveland. Not a bad idea: First-year associates at Jones Day made $145,000 a year in Cleveland in 2012, which today is equivalent to making about $300,000 in New York. Not bad at all.

3. But Is It Good for Your Resume?

What if you have a job offer, but it requires you to move somewhere else? Consider how long the job is for, what you'll be making, and whether it's a step up for your resume. You could move to Boise to become a contract attorney, but is that good for your resume? And what happens when the contract is over? Are there also resume-building jobs in Boise, or will you have to move back to where you came from?

4. Should You Take the Uniform Bar Exam?

The UBE is a fairly new idea: 14 states have embraced it so far. Take one bar exam and you can take your test score to other states, depending on how well you did. Each state still has its own character and fitness requirements, but at least you don't have to take separate exams. Right now, the UBE is available only in Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, so if any of those states sound appealing, one gets you 14 -- better odds than Vegas!

5. Just Don't Go Here.

Last year, The Atlantic published a list of the worst states for law school graduates, as defined by how much law graduates will outpace annual job openings from 2010 to 2020. The situation was the most grim in Mississippi, where there were 10.53 graduates per job opening, followed by Michigan (6.48), Delaware (4.20), Nebraska (4.04), and Vermont (3.50).

Any other advice for deciding whether to move somewhere else? Let us know on Facebook or on Twitter @FindLawLP.

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