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Universities must be ‘held accountable’ for law grad oversupply - Lawyers Weekly

By Alan J. McDonald


A managing director has responded to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s now infamous comments about there being “too many kids doing law”, saying that the onus must fall on the universities.

According to McDonald Murholme managing director Alan McDonald, the law grad oversupply problem is largely due to the number of places universities offer students wanting to study law.

Mr McDonald called the universities irresponsible for the vacancies they’re offering students and said that they must be held accountable. In his argument he referenced data by the Australian Financial Review which revealed there are almost 15,000 law graduates each year in Australia, while the legal profession is comprised of just 66,000 solicitors.

“The universities have been very irresponsible as a group in allowing the oversupply for their short-term financial gain,” Mr McDonald said.

“Cashing in on people thinking erroneously that having a law degree will benefit them needs to be addressed by regulation and not merely by the Prime Minister’s rhetoric.

“There are a raft of problems that will be created if issues are not quickly addressed.”

Mr McDonald added that “in the usual supply and demand economics, reducing income of young lawyers directly in an already flat wage growth environment is a concern”.

“It is also stripping the economy of young people that should have been trained in different skill base areas so that they would perform valuable work for worthwhile incomes,” he explained.

“These issues include that we are incorrectly training young minds to look at work through the prism of a lawyer, which is a discipline not suited for most workplaces.”

Mr McDonald’s comments come after PM Malcolm Turnbull told Canberra radio station 2CC that he had counselled younger people against studying law unless they had plans to become a lawyer.

He went on to say that university students looking for what he called an “interesting background qualification” should study humanities or business.

“I actively discourage kids from doing law unless they actually want to be lawyers,” the PM said.

“I’m a lawyer… If you want to be a lawyer, you’ve got to do a law degree full stop, but a lot of kids do law as though it’s a sort of interesting background qualification and it’s not.

“If you want to have a general humanities degree that is an intellectual endowment but isn’t particularly specific in a vocational sense, then you would be better off doing languages, history, literature, philosophy.

“Frankly you’d be better off doing economics.”

Reference : Universities must be ‘held accountable’ for law grad oversupply, Lawyers Weekly, 14th February 2018