The employment rate for legal graduates is still below the all-time high reached in 2007 of 91.9 percent. According to data released by the National Association for Law Placement, the rate of employment for law grads dropped for a sixth consecutive year, coming in at 84.5 percent.
For the data, the employment rate of 2013 graduates was measured on February 15, which is nine months after May graduation, according to Businessweek. Last year’s class was one of the largest in recent years, which aided in the drop of the overall employment rate. In the fall of 2010, there were 52,000 first-year law students, which was an all-time high.
The report from the NALP states: “Since 1985, there have only been two classes with an overall employment rate below [84.5 percent], and both of those occurred in the aftermath of the 1990-91 recession.”
Not all the news from the report is bad. A little more than half of the 2013 class is working in private practice and the median starting salary across the country increased to $62,467.
There is more bad news from the report though. Of the graduates who left school in 2013, just 64.4 percent are working in jobs that require passage of the bar exam. Over the past six years, that number has dropped by six percentage points. In 2013, the unemployment rate for graduates increased to 12.9 percent compared to 12.8 percent of the 2012 class.
James Leipold, the executive director of the NALP, said the following about the survey:
“Law graduates must enter law school with the understanding that the jobs picture, while strengthening, is one that will continue to evolve, and in the course of that evolution it is almost certain that new opportunities will present themselves, just as it is certain that some traditional opportunities that law school graduates have long counted on will continue to erode. … It is not true that there are too many lawyers—indeed even today most Americans do not have adequate access to affordable legal services—but the traditional market for large numbers of law graduates by large law firms seeking equity-track new associates is not likely to ever return to what it was in 2006 or 2007, and thus aggregate earning opportunities for the class as a whole are not likely to return to what they were before the recession.”
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