Thursday, December 5, 2013

So, What is a JD Advantage Job?

Jobs for Law Graduates in Banking, Finance, Technology, E-Commerce, Management Consulting, Government, Public Interest, Accounting 
-- and Yes --
as Legal Temps

NALP describes a JD Advantage job as follows:
It turns out that the JD degree prepares you for a variety of exciting jobs and careers. While many law school graduates go on to practice law, many others go on to play leadership roles in a variety of settings. 
* * *  
You will see that JD Advantage positions are jobs that do not require bar passage, an active law license, or involve practicing law in the traditional sense. However, in these positions, a JD provides an advantage in obtaining or performing the job. In fact, many graduates view entry-level opportunities with the federal government or in business/industry as a primary goal. There are many law-related positions for which a JD is a significant competitive advantage.
At the same website page, NALP offers a series of video interviews it says:
"[H]ighlight[] the significance of JD Advantage positions. These interviews shed light on some of the many kinds of positions taken by recent law school graduates."

In May 2013, NALP reported that:
With the persistently weak entry-level job market for law school graduates that has followed the 2008 recession, interest in jobs that can be categorized as JD Advantage jobs has grown. In fact, the extent to which law school graduates take jobs for which a JD provides an advantage in obtaining the job has been growing steadily since NALP began tracking this kind of job in 2001. 
For the Class of 2011, 12.5% of graduates for whom employment status was known had obtained such a job, more than double the rate of 6% in 2001. Also, this year for the first time the US News & World Report law school rankings changed their methodology so that jobs that require bar passage and jobs that provide a JD advantage were given more weight than other categories of jobs. 
Nearly one in seven jobs taken by the Class of 2011 was reported as a JD Advantage job. In numbers, this translates to more than 5,200 jobs. These jobs were most common by far in the business realm, which accounted for 46% of the JD Advantage jobs obtained by the Class of 2011.
NALP reports that the JD Advantage jobs appear in the following sectors, in descending order of jobs created:
  • Business (described below);
  • Government (federal and state executive and administrative agencies);
  • Private practice (law clerks and paralegals);
  • Public interest (policy and advocacy groups); and
  • Academic (law research assistant or fellow).
For the 2011 graduating class, NALP further explained:
Within specific business sectors, banking and legal temp agencies were the biggest source of JD Advantage jobs, and the specific job types most frequently reported were management and consulting. 
However, the single largest category of JD Advantage jobs in business were “other,” suggesting a wide range of jobs outside of those tracked specifically and that do not easily lend themselves to categorization. No other sector accounted for more than 19% of JD Advantage jobs. 
As the charts accompanying this report indicate, jobs in the business sector also include:
  • Financial institutions
  • Technology
  • E-commerce
  • Management consulting, and 
  • Accounting firms.  
Scambloggers have expressed great concern about the number of graduates finding employment through legal temp agencies and as paid employees of law schools.  I'll blog about that issue in a later posting.

Professor Merritt, in calculating the year in which new jobs would equal or exceed new law grads, stated:
All of the above calculations assume that the future JDs will be satisfied with JD Advantage jobs.  That seems a dubious assumption. We know that recent graduates have not been satisfied with those jobs.  Among 2011 graduates, 46.8% of those with JD Advantage jobs reported that they were seeking other work.  Graduates have been taking JD Advantage jobs to survive, but they are not satisfied with those positions.
Professor Merritt does not site the source of this information, so I have trouble analyzing it right now.

Anecdotally, several recent ASL grads got JD Advantage jobs in the energy industry. One grad made a six-figure salary only a few years after graduating from our school. Yes, he is seeking another job, but that's so he can be closer to his family and avoid a weekly commute between Virginia and the Marcellus Shale Play located in Pennsylvania.  Is he otherwise satisfied with a JD Advantage job in the energy industry? Yes. For one thing, it pays substantially more than the Bar Passage Required jobs available in the area.

In short, I hate to make too many assumptions about graduates holding JD Advantage jobs, especially those in industries identified as "hot,"  like energy, regulatory, and health care.

I've planned a posting comparing salary data for Bar Passage Required jobs and JD Advantage jobs.

Dec. 6, 2013 Update:  I just got this email from Professor Merritt:
Hi, Paula. I just put up a post with some more information about JD Advantage jobs. I agree with you that we shouldn't make assumptions about these jobs. As I write here, however, schools and NALP already have useful information about these jobs -- but they haven't been willing to disclose that information. I have been trying to get schools to disclose the information they have, and I hope you'll join me. There is also more information that could be collected, but there is quite a bit available.
Professor Merritt has also provided in this posting the data and its source supporting her statement that almost half of graduates holding JD Advantage jobs are continuing to seek another job.

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