Employment Rate for Law Graduates Dives to 15 Year Low
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The employment rate for law graduates is at a fifteen year low, which is not good news for the Class of 2010.  According to the NALP Employment Report and Salary Survey, which was released on June 1 for the class of 2010, the overall employment rate for law graduates is 87.6 percent.  The last time it was this low was the Class of 1996, which had an employment rate of 87.4 percent.

Four years ago, the legal employment rate was at a 20 year high, when it reached 91.9 percent in 2007, which makes the current drop even more upsetting.


According to James Leipold, Executive Director of NALP, these figures aren’t a very big surprise for those who have been following the legal job market for the last couple of years.  According to Leipold, the worst part of the recession, which was in 2008, was when fall recruiting was happening for the Class of 2010.  He said that firms had smaller summer programs, cancelled their summer programs, or just didn’t make as many offers to the summer associates in their programs as they had in the past.

One result that did surprise Leipold was how sharply employment in private practice dropped for new graduates.  From the Class of 2009 to 2010, the percentage of new law graduates employed in private practice fell to 50.9 percent, which is a 5 percent reduction in one year.

The statistics break down even further to show that a mere 68.5 percent of those participating in the survey had employment where bar passage was required, which is the lowest percent that NALP has recorded since beginning tracking it.

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Another 11 percent of those who responded had only part time employment, and more than 27 percent had only temporary work.  An additional 8 percent had both part time and temporary work.

How will the future be for the Class of 2011 and beyond?  There is definitely some increase in hiring amount shown by the NALP’s statistics, as well as more firms hiring 3Ls after their 2011 summer programs end.

Leipold says the following about the future: “We can expect that the overall employment rate for new law school graduates will continue to be stagnant or decline further for the class of 2011, with the curve not trending upward before the employment statistics become available for the Class of 2012.”


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