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5 Reasons 2015 Will Be a Better Year for Lawyers

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on January 07, 2015 9:32 AM

So you've been hearing a lot about how lawyers are all unemployed and make no money, how law school is expensive, and how there are no jobs for graduates. We can see how you would reasonably infer that the legal profession is having a bit of a hiccup.

Cheer up! No, seriously! This year, 2015, promises to be a good year for lawyers and law graduates, thanks in part to some good stuff that happened in 2014. See? It wasn't all bad!

Here are five reasons to be optimistic:

1. Salaries Are on the Rise.

The median salary for new law graduates increased in 2014 from $90,000 to $95,000. We also learned that first-year associate salaries in smaller markets like Philadelphia were rising to meet the salaries in big markets like New York and Los Angeles. And at super-white-shoe firms, where the three knobs on the faucet are "hot," "cold," and "champagne," senior associates got huge paydays.

2. Fewer People Are Going to Law School.

The ABA reported in December that the number of 1Ls at all 204 ABA-approved law schools was at its lowest since 1974. Everyone basically agrees that this is a "market correction" of the tremendous over-enrollment from 2010, which led to depressed salaries and a lack of jobs for new graduates. With fewer people going to law school, that means fewer graduates and fewer new lawyers.

3. Associates Aren't the Unhappiest Anymore.

That's according to Forbes' 2014 list of the unhappiest workers in America. In 2013, associate attorneys were at the top. In 2014? Security guards took that honor. In fact, lawyers weren't even on the list (but if you're in any kind of sales or retail management job, maybe look into a Zoloft prescription).

4. More Mobility.

If you hate your job at the law firm, there's good news: Jumping ship and going to work as inside counsel is a good investment. According to Robert Half Legal, in-house salaries are projected to rise, which makes sense, given that a lot of legal work is getting shuffled back to the corporate legal department.

5. A Whole New World (of Practice Areas).

Marijuana? Drones? Digital estate planning? A vast undiscovered country of new practice areas is on the horizon, meaning that if you kind of hate what you're doing now, you can become the expert in a new niche field. Or, you can add some sexy new stuff to your existing practice. Why focus just on analog estate planning when there are Facebook accounts that have to go into the estate, too?

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