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December 31, 2009

Different Times, Different Paths: January ABA Journal Profiles Survivor Strategies

Law school grads adapt to economic realities then and now

From cancelled summer programs, deferrals and rescinded job offers to high debt with no prospects for employment, recent law school grads have taken the brunt of the economic downturn and its impact on the legal community since 2007.  But wait, it’s déjà vu—this recession conjures memories of a similar occurrence that redirected grads in the legal world nearly 20 years ago.  Those with resilience, ingenuity, persistence and patience fared well, and some even took paths they would never have imagined.

The January issue of ABA Journal, flagship magazine of the _, profiles five such individuals and demonstrates how they survived—even thrived—and offers hope for the most recent crop of newly minted lawyers.  The cover story “When the Detour Becomes the Destination” follows the careers paths of the five after graduating law school between 1990 and 1993 and the ways they adapted to “their” recessions.  Teaching, turning to the non-profit sector, clerkships and going solo were among the options explored as grads fought the urge to panic and tried to cope.

“By profiling networkers, hard workers who were also incredibly persistent, and people with both flexibility and determination, we are modeling lessons of hope and resilience,” said Ed Adams, editor and publisher of ABA Journal.  “While life-changing in many ways, the bumps in the road caused by the economy, both then and now, are and were opportunities for self-discovery and perhaps even greater career satisfaction.”

The boom times of the late ‘90s up until 2007 parallel the similarly robust business climate in the late 1980s, followed by the early 1990s when the legal world experienced a downturn that lingered three years beyond the recession itself.  After peaking in the late 1980s, employment rates for new law grads did not begin to rise again until 1994.

The ABA Journal covers the trends, people and finances of the legal profession.  The flagship publication of the _ is sent to every ABA member and reaches more than half of the 1.1 million lawyers in this country each month.  In addition, its Web site, www.ABAJournal.com, is updated every business day with 25 to 50 breaking legal news stories, features, a directory of more than 2,500 legal blogs, and an archive of the full text of the magazine going back through 2004.