Law Schools

Job outlook for newly minted lawyers still bleak, data shows


The job outlook for newly minted lawyers remains bleak, new figures show.

Fifty-seven percent of all 2013 law school graduates were employed in full-time, long-term legal jobs requiring bar passage as of Feb. 15, according to data released Wednesday by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

Still, that’s up slightly from last year, when 56.2 percent of all 2012 law school graduates were reported to be in full-time, long-term legal jobs requiring a law license nine months after graduation.

Another 10.1 percent of all 2013 graduates were employed in long-term, full-time jobs in which a law degree is preferred, which was also up slightly from the class of 2012, when 9.5 percent of all graduates held such jobs.

However, the percentage of 2013 graduates reported as unemployed and seeking work also rose slightly to 11.2 percent this year from last year, when 10.6 percent of 2012 graduates were reported as unemployed and seeking work.

The percentage of positions funded by law schools also increased incrementally this year from last year, from 3.9 percent for all 2012 graduates to 4 percent for the class of 2013.

Last year’s graduating class of 46,776 students was also the largest ever, up 412 students from the 46,364 students in the graduating class of 2012.

Law schools reported employment outcomes for 97.7 percent of their 2013 graduates, which was also up slightly from the 97.4 percent reporting rate for the class of 2012.

Other employment data reported to the section by schools indicates:

• While the percentage of law firm positions increased only marginally, hiring at law firms of 500 or more lawyers rose by nearly 10 percent, from 3,643 for the class of 2012 to 3,989 for the class of 2013.

• The percentage of graduates employed in business and industry rose to 15.2 percent for the class of 2013 from 14.9 percent for the class of 2012

• The percentage of graduates employed in government positions increased to 10.6 percent from 10 percent, while the percentage of graduates employed in public interest positions dropped from 5.9 percent to 4.8 percent. Those changes are due at least in part to a change in the classification for public defender positions, which are now classified as government jobs, not public interest jobs as they were previously.

An online chart (PDF) provides selected definitions and aggregate data breakdowns with comparisons to the previous year. The complete data set and school-by-school employment summaries are available here.

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