is the oversupply of lawyers pervasive across all specialties, or is it endemic to those with a humanities/social science B.A. + JD? do you know where i can find comprehensive statistics about employment prospects and salary for lawyers according to specialty?
Oddly, undergraduate degree bears little correlation to success as an attorney. It bears SOME, but not much. For instance, some firms actually like to see people with business degrees because their clients tend to be businesspeople.
If you have a degree that lets you sit for the patent bar (some type of hard science, usually), then IP law is actually a pretty good field. I've heard some people say that IP law, especially in technology fields, is unaffected by the current recession.
What you find, I think, is that employment is GREAT for great graduates of top schools. (They are the candidates for the legendary $160,000+ starting salaries in biglaw.)
The prospects for a low-ranking graduate of a not particularly well respected school are pretty close to abysmal. I don't think it's a stretch to say that those folks will need a small miracle to get a law job of any sort. For the vast majority of them, the time, effort and expense involved in getting a law degree was a total waste.
So, you sorta work your way down the food chain. If you attend Harvard, but graduate in the bottom quartile? You probably still have job opportunities and maybe some good ones. If you graduate first in your class out of a 3T or 4T, you probably have good prospects.
The average student at an average law school is going to find it a bit of a struggle. They'll be competing pretty hard for a $60,000 a year job.
As for good sources of data on this, those are hard to find. Honestly, what little I know on the topic comes from anectdotes from people I talk to.
Do you know which areas you are interested in practicing in? I guess I sorta presumed you might be a good fit for IP law since you have "engineer" in your nickname, but that's a big presumption. What are your goals? To make a lot of money? To work in a specific field? To save the world?
You can pursue any of those goals with a law degree and I think you stand a good shot at success on them if that's what you're after. What are your interests, specifically? Or do you know at this point?