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Legal Job Market Slowly Improving
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Overall, the job market has improved for law school graduates, but better numbers may actually reflect a smaller applicant pool.

Summary: Overall, the job market has improved for law school graduates, but better numbers may actually reflect a smaller applicant pool.

The class of 2014 has found a bit more success in finding jobs than the class of 2014, according to employment numbers released by the National Association for Law Placement.


The National Law Journal reports that close to 87 percent of recent grads found jobs within 10 months of graduating, which is a 2.2 percent increase over the class of 2013. These numbers represent the first time the employment rate overall has improved since 2007. The findings are similar to numbers released by the American Bar Association in April, which also showed a bit of improvement in new-attorney employment.

However, there are several important caveats with this information. The total number of jobs new graduates landed actually fell by 1,200, which was 3 percent. Essentially, there were fewer new attorneys looking for jobs. The ABA reported that 2,709 fewer students graduated with law degrees in 2014 compared to 2013. The class of 2013 was the largest on record. According to the ABA Journal, the number of jobs declined in every category except government work.

Further, both the ABA and the NALP measured employment 10 months after graduation instead of 9, as has been the tradition in the past. This allowed graduates another month to find work.

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What should you do when the legal job market slows down?

NALP executive director James Leipold said, “These data present a picture of a complex employment market, and it is virtually impossible to tease apart the twin forces of a shrinking class and an overall job market that continues to improve (albeit modestly).”

Leipold added, “But it is clear that the shrinking class size did indeed have a positive impact on the overall employment rate, and that is a dynamic that will likely continue to be in play for the next three graduating classes, each of which is projected to continue to come down in size in fairly dramatic steps.”

Many grads seek “JD advantage” jobs.

Over 66 percent of the class of 2014 found jobs that required passing the bar, which was nearly a 2 percent increase from the previous year. These numbers were the highest since 2010, and the first increase since 2007. In 2007, around 77 percent of graduates found jobs that required passing the bar.

Will the job market ever fully recover for law school graduates?

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Roughly 15 percent of 2014 graduates landed jobs where a law degree provided an advantage. Another 10 percent were unemployed and looking for jobs, and 4 percent found jobs that did not require a law degree. The number of graduates in part-time jobs decreased slightly.

Questions to ask yourself before starting your job search.

The median salary reported was $63,000, up from $62,467 reported by the class of 2013.

For those with law firm jobs, the median salary was $95,000. According to Bloomberg, 50.9 percent of graduates were in private practice. Those in government reported a median salary of $52,700. Public defenders and others in public-interest work reported a median salary of $45,000.

Leipold commented, “A fair bottom-line reading is that the entry-level job market is basically flat to improving slightly. In parsing this year’s numbers, it probably doesn’t make sense to read too much into the small contraction in the overall number of jobs obtained, as it reflects in part simply a smaller group of job seekers.”

Source: National Law Journal

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