Legal Education

2020 law school grads having harder time finding jobs, data shows

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For 2020 graduates of ABA-accredited law schools, 77.4% had long-term, full-time jobs that required or preferred bar passage, compared to 80.6% for the class of 2019.

The ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar released the data Tuesday. The information includes an online table that breaks down 2020 jobs by various categories and includes comparisons to class of 2019 data.

For the class of 2020, which had 34,420 members, 69.9% had full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage; and 7.5% had full-time, long-term JD-advantage jobs.

The class of 2019 had 33,954 members, 72.1% of whom had full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar passage; and 8.5% had full-time, long-term JD-advantage jobs.

Also, 2,852 members of the class of 2020 (8.3%) are considered to be unemployed and seeking work, according to the table. For the class of 2019, there were 2,186 members in that category (6.4%).

In terms of percentages by job types, there was a 1.3% increase in large law firm jobs for 2020 graduates, compared to the class of 2019. There was also an 18.8% increase in law school-funded jobs, a 15.8% increase in solo practitioner work and a 10.4% increase in public interest positions. Government jobs decreased, by 9.9%, as did business and industry work, by 8%.

According to the news release, law schools must include a disclaimer on their class of 2020 employment summaries to explain the pandemic-related “unique nature” of the numbers, which may not reflect typical results.

In February the section council denied law school dean requests to push back the employment data reporting deadline from March to June. Consistency is important for data collection, and extending the deadline would not help consumers, Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education, said at the council’s February meeting.

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