This is the central question that the panel will be discussing at Legal Cheek's Google Campus event this evening.
The boom era narratives that attracted students to the law are fading. City law salaries are no longer spiralling; instead they're stagnant, with trainee numbers falling and many corporate firms desperately scouring the horizon for merger candidates.
Meanwhile, the Inns of Court-related glamour that has traditionally drawn students to the publicly-funded Bar is giving way to a sense that the hardship involved just isn't worth it.
Amid the gloom, however, there are some interesting new legal career options developing...
On the evening of Wednesday 5 December Legal Cheek is hosting a star-studded panel debate at the Google Campus in Shoreditch.
Speakers include New Statesman legal correspondent David Allen Green, UK Human Rights Blog editor and practising barrister Adam Wagner, magic circle lawyer-turned-Queen Mary University of London academic Jill Marshall, Accutrainee founder Susan Cooper, Seed Academy organiser and trainee solicitor Mark Needham, Artesian Law co-founder Jonathan Rose, and social media journalist Emily Jupp of The Independent.
They will be discussing how a combination of post-Google business models, the emerging start-up scene and the blurring between legal practice and journalism/academia will change the shape of the legal profession for today's law students and junior lawyers. How will it look in 5-10 years time? And how can those starting out in law best position themselves to take advantage of the changes?
The event is free to get in, plus there’ll be free drinks and nibbles provided by our sponsor, Kaplan Law School, but places are limited...
EXCLUSIVE: You hear all sorts of stories about partners asking outrageous, Borat-style questions during TC interviews.
But because of wannabe lawyers’ refusal to name names (either theirs or the firm in question) out of fear of being traced and marked out as troublemakers, they almost always go unreported.
How to get round this problem?
In this case, we’ve got a respected legal academic (Queen Mary University London senior lecturer Jill Marshall) who taught the student making the allegation to go on the record as a kind of character reference.
If Marshall – who, having spent ten years at Herbert Smith and Freshfields, is no out-of-touch ivory tower dweller – didn’t believe what the student said, she wouldn’t have let us publish her name.
So here are the details...
Most people don’t stay at the law firms they join as trainees all that long. When I interviewed Freshfields lawyer-turned-author Jonathan Lee on Wednesday about his brilliant new book 'Joy', he told me that only five out of the fifty trainees in his 2005 intake are still there.
This week’s #RoundMyKitchenTable podcast guest, Jill Marshall, is another ex-Freshfields lawyer who decided to try her luck outside corporate law. Rather than stick around to battle it out for partnership, Marshall elected instead to do a PhD and pursue a career as a legal academic at Queen Mary, University of London, just down the canal from Legal Cheek’s studios in glamorous east London.
Such a switch is anathema to podcast co-host Kevin Poulter, a lawyer at Bircham Dyson Bell, whose gritty Doncaster roots cause him to view learning with suspicion. "I can think of nothing worse than going back to being a student," says the Yorkshireman at one point during the podcast, before returning to the sketch of a coalmine he spent much of the evening completing.