Law school graduates can expect better returns, better job opportunities, and overall more hiring by larger firms. Hiring freezes that have been the norm as the economy waded in the doldrums are no more. According to the National Law Journal, there has been a 27 percent increase in hiring recent law school graduates from last year, culminating in a total of 3600 hires from members of the J.D. class of 2012. The National Association for Law Placement confirms that graduates from the 50 law schools that send the most alumni into large-firm jobs experienced a 13.3 percent increase in landing such jobs.
The growth in jobs is a heartening sight in today’s economy. According to Marcia Shannon, assistant dean for career services at Georgetown University Law Center,
“There was a definite improvement in the number of people who went into large law firms in 2012 compared to 2011. We had a six percent increase in the percentage of graduates getting those jobs. We expected an increase, but not quite that much. We felt like 2011 was really the bottom of the market.”
With recent equity market downslides, notwithstanding QE, and almost 10 percent unemployment, it is a beautiful thing to see jobs growing in this sector, especially relative to the investment and the opportunity cost. The housing market has seen a turnaround, and perhaps there is a generally positive correlation with these themes. There is no harm in hoping for a strong comeback.
According to law.com, we are quite far from the hiring benchmark of 2009, where large firms hired 5,100 graduates. Relative to the new models of hourly lawyers, and legal-process outsourcing, experts are skeptical whether hiring will hit that benchmark high in the short term. Yet there is good news in the mix. According to NALP executive director James Leipold, the class of 2012 saw the rebounding of private sector practice, particularly at large firms, and with that we see some rebounding salary numbers. So there is hope, as the number of jobs obtained by graduates as well as the median starting salary increases.