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Most law grads leave the law: survey

Most law grads leave the law: survey

About half of all law students now choose a different career field after graduation. They join a growing number of Australian students not pursuing careers in their educational field.

ABOUT half of all law students now choose a different career field after graduation. They join a growing number of Australian students not pursuing careers in their educational field. 

Results from the 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey, prepared by the Australian Council for Educational Research, indicate that graduates from fields like architecture, health and education are likely to stay in those areas, while graduates from areas like law, science, IT and engineering are more likely to go into other industries. 

New South Wales Law Society president, Joe Catanzariti, says law students are commonly recognised as being in the second category. 

“Law has become a generalist degree. About 50 per cent of students make a choice at the end of their law degree not to be a lawyer; the others go to College of Law.” 

Catanzariti said the number of law graduates not going in to law has increased in recent decades. 

Catanzariti said that a number of students who complete College of Law then change their mind within the first couple of years of work, with a majority of them entering the business or public sectors.

This was illustrated by one of the study’s samples, a 29-year-old female law graduate. “I have not practiced as a lawyer for over two years, however, the range of skills I have acquired in such a discipline will be a great springboard to a range of new careers,” she said.

Another sample, a 29 year old male law graduate, said of his experience: “The critical thinking and communication skills I developed during five years of rigorous study have proven the most relevant to my working life.” 

The study found that after five years 84 per cent of males are in full time work, compared to 69 per cent of females. Males, meanwhile, are paid approximately $7,800 more per year than their female counterparts after five years of employment. 

In general, the respondents considered their degree more valuable and relevant as their career progressed. 

The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey focused on employment outcomes five years after completion of a bachelor degree at an Australian university. It is the first national study of its kind. 

The survey, based on data provided by 9,238 graduates, found 91 per cent of bachelor graduates from Australian universities are employed five years after graduation. 


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