[O]nce we exclude jobs that don’t require law degrees, law school-funded jobs, other temporary jobs, and part time jobs, and then make a generous estimate of how many private practice positions with very small firms were real legal jobs, the numbers look like this:
60% of all graduates whose employment status was known were in full-time jobs requiring a law degree.
Minus the 4% of all graduates in law school-funded temporary jobs.
Minus the approximately 15% of all graduates in temporary (less than one year) legal positions other than law school-funded jobs.
Minus an estimated 4.25% of all graduates in fictional “firm” jobs.
Minus the 3% of all graduates working as solo practitioners.
This leaves us with 33.75% of all 2011 ABA law school graduates in real legal jobsnine months after graduation.
This is, in my view, a conservative estimate of the scope of the disaster that has overtaken America’s law school graduates. It counts almost all positions with law firms and with government agencies as real legal jobs, even though we know some of these “jobs” are actually one-year unpaid internships. (See for example these). Indeed it counts whole classes of time-limited jobs that are likely to leave graduates with no legal employment at their conclusion, such as most state judicial clerkships, as long-term rather than temporary employment. Most of all, it makes what by now must be considered the questionable assumption that law schools are reporting these numbers accurately, rather than misreporting them to their advantage.
Yet even this generous estimate of how many 2011 graduates of ABA-accredited law schools managed to get real legal jobs leads to the conclusion that two-thirds did not.