Friday, July 12, 2013

An Improving Employment Trend for 2012 Law Grads

Some qualified good news.  Overall employment for 2012 law grads suggests an improving trend.

The 2012 grads obtained more jobs than 2011 grads, but the class also had more graduates in it. Accordingly, the percent of employed fell to 84.7% from 85.7% the previous year.  The 2012 grads entered law school in the fall of 2009, and so the larger class size apparently indicates the choice of many college graduates to attend graduate school rather than face a job market deep in recession.

The NALP Executive Director, James Leipold, stated: "I continue to believe that the Class of 2011 represented the absolute bottom of the curve on the jobs front . . . ."

Many of the stories about job prospects for law school grads compare current employment rates to the pre-recession rate of 2007.  This comparison misrepresents the situation because employment that year represented a 24-year high of 91.9% according to NALP.   I compute the 20-year average (from 1988 to 2007), as 88.7%, which is still 4 percentage points higher than the 2012 employment rate.

About one half (50.7%) of the employed 2012 graduates got a job in private practice, up a bit from the year before.  However, this employment rate lagged behind historical averages of 55-58%.  Firms with more than 500 lawyers offered improving opportunities for new grads by providing 19.1% of law firm jobs, up from 16.2% in 2011.

On the other end of the spectrum, small firms (2 to 10 lawyers) provided 8,200 jobs in 2012 up from 7,600 jobs in 2011.  In 2011, these small firms provided 42.9% of new jobs for grads.  About 6% of new 2011 grads entered solo practice.

Jobs requiring bar passage provided 64.4% of jobs for 2012 grads, falling slightly from the 2011 rate of 65.4% -- but falling ten percentage points below the pre-recession 2008 rate of 74.7%.

Jobs in which employers preferred a J.D. degree, but did not require bar passage, increased from 12.5% in 2011 to 13.3% in 2012.  The 2012 percentage for this category set a new high since 2001, when NALP began tracking the category.

At the same time, the unemployment rate rose a bit from 12.1% in 2011 to 12.8% in 2012.

The National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP) has reported preliminary data, which it plans to finalize in August. The press release announcing the data appears here.  The data reports outcomes 9-months after graduation, which may fail to represent long-term prospects for law grads, as I discussed in an earlier blog found here.   Percentages reflect only those graduates responding to the NALP survey.

As we begin a new recruiting season in graduate schools, I wonder how many other professions offer employment rates of 84.7% in this recovering economy.  And, what is the employment rate for new MBAs? If you know, please comment to this blog.


1 comment:

  1. That’s a good news. Due to tough economy in past couple of years, number of legal practices for sale increased many times which was not a good sign at all.