TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, June 24, 2012

WSJ: Law Grads Face Brutal Job Market

Following up on last week's post, ABA: Only 55.2% of the Class of 2011 Have Full-Time Long-Term Legal Jobs:  Wall Street Journal, Law Grads Face Brutal Job Market:

Members of the law-school class of 2011 had little better than a 50-50 shot of landing a job as a lawyer within nine months of receiving a degree, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of new data that provides the most detailed picture yet of the grim market for law jobs.

Under pressure from disillusioned graduates and some professors, the ABA for the first time released a tally of the previous year's graduates who have secured full-time, permanent jobs as lawyers. Until recently, the ABA required law schools to report only general data about how their graduates fared, such as how many were employed full-time or part-time in any kind of job, whether or not it required a law degree.

The numbers suggest the job market for law grads is worse than previously thought. Nationwide, only 55% of the class of 2011 had full-time, long-term jobs that required a law degree nine months after graduation. The ABA defines "long-term" jobs as those that don't have a term of less than one year.

Of course, it isn't uncommon for people to attend law school to advance their career without practicing law. Several law-school deans cautioned against placing too much emphasis on jobs requiring a law degree. ...

The new details are likely to feed a debate about the value of a law degree. More than 40,000 students enter the law-job market annually. In the past year, law-school graduates have filed more than a dozen lawsuits around the country alleging that some schools misled students with job-placement statistics.

The 2011 data reinforce the notion in the industry that students from the top 14 U.S. law schools have little trouble finding work. The top-ranked schools sent graduates into long-term legal jobs in high numbers, but 87 lower-tier schools had placement rates of 50% or less.

Wall Street Journal Interactive Graphic:  The Job Market for Law Graduates:

Law students who graduated in 2011 had barely better than a 50-50 shot at landing a job nine months after receiving their degrees, according to new data that offer the most detailed picture yet of how dire the legal job market has grown in recent years. See the percentages of law graduates employed in various full-time, long-term positions, and those who were unemployed nine months after graduating. Click the column headers to sort.

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