Why Law Graduates are Overwhelming Iraq's Job Market
The number of students admitted to Iraqi law schools has soared in recent years, flooding the market with job-hungry graduates. The intense competition forces them to work for a fraction of customary charges — if they can find work at all.
According to the Student Guide for Central Admission in Iraqi Universities for the 2015-16 academic year, there are 19 public law programs. Meanwhile, the admissions guide for private universities shows 29 accredited faculties.
The legal profession has been of great importance in the modern history of Iraq, as lawyers have played many roles in politics, being the first to fill government jobs and lead political movements in the monarchy. They made up a well-regarded societal elite when their numbers were small.
But after the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003, the government suffered from mismanagement and ill-considered decisions — including the expansion of universities without consideration for graduates' futures. The proliferation of graduates is becoming more obvious as the job market in Iraq is declining.
The competition for government jobs is strong, so recent high school graduates hedge their bets by enrolling in fields that ostensibly could lead to jobs in the private sector, such as law. Moreover, it's relatively easy to gain admittance to a bar association. Under Iraqi law, conditions have been simple: Besides a good resume and good conduct, Iraqis just needed a law degree from a college accredited by the government.
The bar association on Sept. 5 did toughen admission conditions somewhat. Applicants now must file a form of several pages providing the names of five lawyers from the association chamber in the applicant’s province who endorse the applicant. However, it remains to be seen if these procedures will help slow the flow of new applicants, and the changes do nothing to address the current overcrowding.