Business of Law

BigLaw hiring is up, NALP survey says, but record law grad class vied for fewer overall jobs

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There’s good news and bad for top graduates of the nation’s law schools.

BigLaw hiring is up significantly, following the job cuts and slow demand that resulted from the economic crisis of 2009. But a bumper crop of law graduates is competing for fewer overall jobs, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

A record 46,776 earned their degrees in 2013, yet available jobs at the country’s major firms dropped from 5,156 in 2009 to 3,980 in 2013, a National Association for Law Placement survey found.

That translated to a job at a firm of over 500 attorneys for slightly over one in five graduates in 2013, or 20.6 percent, within nine months of graduation, the NALP survey determined. Two years earlier, in the trough of the stagnation following the Great Recession, that figure was 16.2 percent.

Overall employment for the class of 2013, as of February 15, 2014, was 84.5 percent, slightly less than in 2012. Some of those jobs did not require law degrees, NALP notes. In 2007, that figure was 91.9 percent, the highest in 24 years.

The average salary for those working at top law firms was $160,000, the WSJ notes; overall, NALP said, the median salary for all law firm jobs among the class of 2013 was $95,000.

Related coverage: “Median salary is $95K for new law grads working in law firms, NALP study shows”

Washington Post: “Job market tepid for law school grads”

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