Paul L. Caron

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NALP: Law School Class of 2011 Faced 'Brutal' Job Market

NALP logoNALP today released a four-page report, Selected Findings from the Employment Report and Salary Survey for the Class of 2011:

The overall employment rate for new law school graduates is, at 85.6% for the Class of 2011, the lowest it has been since 1994, when the rate stood at 84.7%. In addition to an overall employment rate that fell two percentage points from that for the previous class, and that has dropped each year since 2008, the Class of 2011 employment figures reveal a job market with many underlying structural weaknesses. The employment profile for this class also marks a continued interruption of employment patterns for new law school graduates that had, prior to 2010, been undisturbed for decades....

Indeed, low as it is, the overall employment rate of 85.6% of graduates for whom employment status was known actually conceals a number of negative trends in the job market that were first apparent for the Class of 2009 but have since become more prominent. For instance, of those graduates for whom employment was known, only 65.4% obtained a job for which bar passage is required. This figure has fallen over 9 percentage points just since 2008—when it was 74.7%—and is the lowest percentage NALP has ever measured.

Not quite half (49.5%) of employed graduates obtained a job in private practice, a drop from 50.9% for the Class of 2010, which in turn was a full 5 percentage point decline from 2009. In most of the 38 years for which NALP has collected employment information, the percentage of jobs in law firms has been in the 55-58% range and has been below 50% only once before 2011.

In commentary accompanying the Selected Findings, NALP Executive Director James Leipold noted, "For members of the Class of 2011, ... the entry-level job market can only be described as brutal. When this class took their LSATs and applied for law school there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing, and yet by the time they graduated they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal employment market in more than 30 years."


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