Job Market Gets Even Worse for Law Grads
Law school graduates face what may be the worst job market in more than 30 years, according to a new report by the National Association for Law Placement. Just 85.6 percent of the Class of 2011 was employed nine months after graduation — the lowest employment rate since 1994. And that’s the good news. That figure actually conceals a number of negative employment trends, according to NALP.
Only 65.4 percent of graduates are working as lawyers, which is defined as jobs that require them to pass the bar exam, the study found. That’s down from 82.3 percent in 2007, and it’s the lowest percentage NALP has ever measured in the 38 years of its studies. Less than half of graduates have jobs in private practice — the lowest number since 1975. Of those working for law firms, just 16.2 percent of graduates are working for firms with more than 500 lawyers. That’s down from more than a quarter of the Class of 2008. Meanwhile, 42.9 percent of graduates in private practice work for firms with two to ten lawyers — up 11 percentage points in the last three years. And almost 12 percent of the Class of 2011 are working in part-time jobs — about double the number recorded prior to the start of the Great Recession in 2008.
While the job market may improve modestly in coming years, NALP doesn’t expect a significant rebound. NALP Executive Director James Leipold says, quote, there is nothing to indicate a rapid recovery or a likely return to pre-recession employment levels any time in the near future.