How can this be? Are we so overlawyered where by contrast Canada has found the market sweet spot? Are Canadian law graduates finding jobs, thereby explaining the continued strength in the Canadian application rate? And if so, why the difference?
A comment to the post offers these reasons as explanation:
2. Leverage in large US law firms was very different as of 2008 than in Canada. A typical partner to associate ratio in large Canadian firms was somewhere between 1 to 2 compared to a much larger number in the US. Large leverage is very profitable when the work is there to be done and very costly when there isn't enough work. The result of 2008 and following was a massive deleveraging in the US compared to Canada with the opportunities for young lawyers becoming much worse very quickly. And many of those looking for rational career choices would avoid law until the market corrected over time. While large Canadian firms have decreased their intake, the decrease was comparatively much less significant. The US decrease in hiring and layoffs has been of sufficient duration now that potential law school applicants have obviously taken note.
3. As Noel said, the post-2008 economic downturn was less significant in Canada than in the United States. We didn't "enjoy" the bubble to the same extent nor did we suffer a burst Canadian bubble. But like all Western economies, we are not doing as well as pre-2008.
4. The so-called articling crisis is of relatively recent duration and is disproportionately experienced by those educated outside of Ontario. It is not surprising that Canaidan law schools will not have suffered a significant decrease in applications because their graduates have done relatively well in finding positions. But I wonder if the same will be true for the law schools outside of Canada where Canadians have been sought after.
We could start to see employment problems for first year lawyers as the significantly increased volume of new lawyers starts looking for jobs and competing for work. If this becomes the story, a decrease in applications to Canadian law schools may well follow.
Photo: Grand Séminaire de Québec vu du Bassin Louise à Québec, province de Québec, Canada, by Gilbert Bochenek, 2008