Law Schools

Barely half of all 2012 law grads have long-term, full-time legal jobs, data shows

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Barely half of all 2012 law school graduates had full time, long-term legal jobs as of Feb. 15, according to employment outcome data released Friday by the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

Law schools reported that 56.2 percent of 2012 graduates were in jobs requiring bar passage, the figures show. But that’s still a slight improvement over last year, when only 54.9 percent of all 2011 graduates had full-time, long-term legal jobs nine months after graduation.

Another 9.5 percent of 2012 graduates were employed in jobs in which a law degree is preferred, which is a slight improvement over the class of 2011’s numbers, when 8.1 percent of graduates held so-called JD advantage positions.

The data also shows that 10.6 percent of all 2012 graduates were unemployed and seeking work, a 1.4 percent increase over last year, when 9.2 percent of all 2011 graduates were reported as unemployed and seeking work.

The figures also show that the percentage of law school-funded positions has dropped to 3.9 percent for 2012 graduates, from 4.5 percent for last year’s graduates.

In the release about the data, the section notes that the class entering law school in 2010 was the largest on record. But since then, there’s been a sharp decrease in applicants and applications. As a result of the larger class size, the number of all graduates in the class of 2012 rose 5.4 percent to 46,364 from 43,979. And, the absolute number of class of 2012 graduates employed in long-term, full-time positions where bar passage was required rose 7.6 percent to 26,066 from 24,149.

This year’s employment outcome data was posted exactly two weeks after the March 15 law school reporting deadline for 2012 graduates. Last year’s data didn’t come out until May. Data for the class of 2010 wasn’t published until nearly two years later.

Here is a chart summarizing the data (PDF) with comparisons to the previous year. The complete data set and school-by-school employment summaries are available here.

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