New ABA data shows increase in jobs for recent law grads

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The number of full-time, long-term, bar passage required or JD-preferred jobs went up by 11.2% for 2021 graduates compared to 2020, according to data released Monday by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

Out of the 2021 graduates, 74.2% had full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage, and 8.8% work in full-time, long-term positions referred to by the ABA as “JD advantage,” where a law degree is preferred but not required.

Comparatively, 69.9% of 2020 graduates had full-time, long-term jobs that required bar passage, and 7.5% had JD advantage positions.

The class of 2021 had 35,712 graduates, compared to 34,420 members in the class of 2020, according to ABA employment outcomes. There was a 3.8% increase in size between the classes of 2021 and 2020.

“The higher percentage of graduates in the bar passage required or JD advantage jobs likely reflects a modest increase in the number of jobs nationwide, perhaps due to the legal market’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic. This is encouraging given there was also a 3.8% increase in the number of total graduates,” said Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education, in a news release.

Among the 2021 graduates, 50.6% had law firms jobs, 10.4% were in government positions and 10% worked in business. Additionally, 7.7% were doing public interest work and 9.6% had clerkships.

Also, 5.3% of the class was categorized as “unemployment/seeking,” while 1.2% had law school-funded positions.

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