Cold winter for law graduates

By Wang Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-05 09:25
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Cold winter for law graduates

On the last day of 2009, Snow Li, a 24-year-old law school postgraduate student, arose at 7 am and went online to search for company information.

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Li wasn't preparing a court case but instead getting ready for an interview at a local bank's law department. Since she finished her second year at China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) last July, Li, like many of her classmates, has been looking for work. She sent out nearly 50 resumes to State-owned companies, banks and law firms, but this is only the third interview she has received.

"Most of my classmates started looking for a job in July, but none of them has had an offer so far," said Li.

"I really want to be a lawyer or get a job related to law. But if I can't find one eventually, I will have to turn to some administrative work or jobs less relevant to law."

Law has topped the list of the 10 most difficult professions to land a job in the country for two consecutive years, taking the No 1 slot in 2008 and No 2 in 2007, according to a joint study released in June 2009 by China's Academy of Social Science and Beijing-based consulting company Mycos Institute.

The other majors listed include computer science, English, international economics and trade, business administration, clinical medicine, Chinese literature, art design, electronic engineering and accounting.

The study showed that the 2008 unemployment rate for law graduates was 23 percent in the six months after graduation, marginally higher than the average for all majors of 22 percent.

The 2008 Blue Paper on China's Rule of Law, published by the Procuratorial Daily, also shows law graduates have the lowest employment rate among all bachelor's of arts degrees.

CUPL law professor Cao Yisun attributes the difficulties to growing numbers of law programs and enrollment along with shrinking demand from employers.

With no standardized curriculum and regulation at law departments, many educational institutions, including private collages or even training schools, have established law departments, which has led to a glut in the number of law graduates, said Cao in an interview with

"Law is a particularly specialized major," Cao was quoted as saying. "Only outstanding students should be qualified to study it."

According to statistics from the Blue Paper, 634 Chinese educational institutions had law department by Nov 2008. Thirty years ago, the number was six.

By Nov 2008, 300,000 students had graduated with a bachelor's degree in law along with 220,000 law graduates from vocational school - a 200-fold increase over the number 30 years ago.

Cold winter for law graduates

Cao said some educational institutions don't have qualified law professors, so many students don't receive proper training.

Wang Boqing, president of Mycos Institute, said supply and demand will be the best way to solve the problem. "Students who have already enrolled into a law department but are willing to switch to another major should be encouraged to do so," Wang said. "Or they can consider studying for a second bachelor's degree."

Wang said that education authorities should evaluate faculty and quality of institutions with law departments. Those that receive poor evaluations should be limited in their capacity to offer law degrees, he said.

"Law graduates have the most difficulty in job hunting, which means the supply has exceeded the demand," Wang said.

"If there is no adjustment in place soon, it is not good for the development of law in the long run."