Chicago Lawyer Offers Students $1,000 to Not Go to Law School

Chicago personal-injury attorney says there are "a lot more lawyers than there are jobs”

Thursday, Nov 7, 2013  |  Updated 1:36 PM EDT
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A Chicago personal injury attorney is offering students a $1,000 scholarship to pursue an education in any field but law.

“It only makes sense where, I’m a lawyer, so therefore I should be giving a legal scholarship, right?” Matthew Willens said. “I just couldn’t come to grips with that. Not in today’s legal job market.”

Willens instead created the “Anything But Law School Graduate Scholarship,” which launched this week, for students entering graduate school in a non-legal field.

Willens said the scholarship isn’t intended to be “anti-law school,” but rather to encourage some students to consider pursuing alternate options.

“I think law school is a wonderful thing -- it was a wonderful part of my life-- this is simply a supply-and-demand issue,” Willens said. “There’s just a lot more lawyers than there are jobs.”

He argues there are few students poised for success in today’s legal job market. Among his criteria for getting a job out of law school is the need to attend a good law school, graduate at the top of the class and have the "holy grail of networks."

“My thought is, if you’re passionate about the law or going to law school, you have the money, and you have the stomach for severe job market adversity, then by all means go,” he said. "But then there's the rest of us, which comprise the majority of people getting out of law school."

Law school applications are beginning to reflect the lack of jobs in the field. The number of applicants for law schools is down nearly 18 percent since 2012, according to the Law School Admission Council.

Willens hopes his scholarship, which is offered to undergraduate students with a minimum 3.0 gpa, will make students think twice about going to law school.

“Hopefully, they don’t,” he said.

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