Hope for law grads? Is the job market improving?
February 11, 2013
Continuing our recent series of posts examining LSAT and law school application trends and the value of a law degree, today we’re going to look at a question I’m sure you’ve all been asking – what happens after graduation?
It’s no secret that many law grads are struggling to find their places in the post-law school world. Almost certainly the driving force behind the decrease in LSAT test-takers and law school applicants is pessimism about the job market. So, here are the big questions: where exactly are law grads finding employment and what are the prospects for the classes of 2015 and beyond?
One thing lawyers love to do is collect stats – stats which can be very useful in evaluating your future job prospects. The National Associate of Legal Placement released a detailed report on the Class of 2011. With 44,495 graduates of American law schools and 43,001 of those grads responding to the NALP survey, there’s no doubt that the report presents comprehensive data.
Where you find data, you find interesting data interpretation. Jordan Weissmann of the Atlantic just wrote an article analyzing the NALP report (as an added bonus, Jordan included some very useful – and colourful! – graphs). I recommend taking the time to read the entire article, but here are some highlights:
1) it’s still tougher to find a job than it was 5 years ago; there were 5034 members of the class of 2011 out of work and only 2362 members of the class of 2007 were in the same position recently after graduation.
2) more 2011 grads found jobs in academia, business and public interest law than 2007 grads had, but fewer found jobs in traditional private practice.
3) even though the number of law grads without work more than doubled, roughly the same number found jobs. How is that possible? There were more law grads in 2011 than 2007. (Hey, doesn’t that sound like an LSAT inference question? Check out Prep Test 27, Section 1, Question 5 if you don’t believe me!)
So, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? It’s still a little dim, but if the economy (and, more importantly, the big law firms) stabilizes, and the lower number of applications to law school stops the growth of the size of law school classes, then the market should self-correct by the time you graduate. There have certainly been similar legal employment cycles in the past and there’s no reason to believe that there won’t be an upturn in the market.
What’s the #1 thing you can do to keep yourself competitive? Rock law school and your Bar Exams– premium positions are still available, but now, more than ever, only the top law grads are getting those sweet sweet jobs upon graduation.