Law Schools

Job market for would-be lawyers is even bleaker than it looks, analysis says

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The job market for prospective lawyers is even bleaker than the law school employment outcome data released Friday by the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar would appear to suggest, according to one group’s analysis of the data.

Excluding jobs funded by law schools, only 55.1 percent of all 2012 law school graduates were employed in full-time, long-term lawyer jobs on Feb .15, according to the analysis by the law school reform group Law School Transparency.

That’s 1.1 percentage points lower than the 56.2 percent figure cited by the ABA, which includes school-funded positions in the number of graduates holding full-time, long-term lawyer jobs, according to the analysis.

Moreover, a “devastating” 27.7 percent of 2012 graduates were either underemployed, meaning they were working in short-term, part-time or nonprofessional jobs, or not employed, meaning they were either unemployed or pursuing an additional degree, according to Law School Transparency’s analysis.

The ABA data showed that 10.6 percent of last year’s graduates were unemployed and seeking work, but didn’t total up the number of graduates who were unemployed and underemployed.

The group’s analysis of the data also shows that fewer than half of the graduates at 66 schools—one-third of all ABA-accredited schools—were working in full-time, long-term legal jobs; less than a third of the graduates of 11 schools, or 5.5 percent of total, were so employed.

On the other hand, 95 schools, or 45.7 percent of all ABA-accredited schools, exceeded the national job placement rate, the analysis shows, including six schools with job placement rates of more than 90 percent.

In a statement (PDF) Monday accompanying the release of the analysis, Kyle McEntee, Law School Transparency’s executive director, urged prospective students to exercise caution in their decision-making.

“Law school is too expensive relative to job outcomes,” he said. “If you plan to debt-finance your education or use hard-earned savings, seriously think twice about attending a law school without a steep discount. For the vast majority of prospective law students who have not received a sizable scholarship, it makes sense to wait for prices to drop.”

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