Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Law Grad Class Of 2016 Secured Fewest Private Practice Jobs Since 1996, But Employment Rose 1% Due To Reduced Class Size

NALP 3NALP, Employment Rate for New Law School Graduates Rises as the Overall Number of Jobs, Class Size, Continue to Shrink:

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) today released its Employment for the Class of 2016 – Selected Findings, a summary of key findings from the upcoming annual Jobs & JDs: Employment and Salaries of New Law School Graduates — Class of 2016 report, coming out in October 2017. Despite a drop in the number of jobs and the graduating class size, this year’s Selected Findings show a slightly improved employment rate of 87.5% for the Class of 2016 compared to 86.7% measured for the Class of 2015.

“For the third year in a row the employment rate is shaped by a smaller number of jobs and a smaller graduating class size, with graduates benefitting from slightly less competition for the jobs that exist. The employment rate has risen because the falloff in the size of the graduating class has been larger than the falloff in the number of jobs secured,” noted James G. Leipold, NALP’s executive director. “While the percentage of law school graduates who are unemployed and still seeking work ten months after graduation has come down by two and a half percentage points to 8.7% over the last three years, it continues to be more than twice as high as the unemployment rate measured nine months after graduation in the period prior to the recession, and this, more than anything, remains an important marker of the current job market for new law school graduates.” ...



The national median salary for the Class of 2016 was $65,000, essentially unchanged from the $64,800 for the Class of 2015. The national mean for the Class of 2016 was $90,305, compared with $83,797 for the Class of 2015. The effect of the starting salary increase to $180,000 was to just shift the distribution of salaries in the upper half of the salary range, with little effect on where the middle falls – therefore, the median starting salary changed little.

The mean law firm salary, however, approached the highwater mean measured before the recession. At $113,571, the mean law firm salary for the Class of 2016 was only about $1,500 less than the mean of just over $115,000 measured for the Class of 2009 – a result of the fact that there are fewer of the highest paying law firm jobs than there were before the recession but many of those jobs now carry a higher starting salary.


New law school graduates from the Class of 2015 secured fewer private practice jobs than any class since 1996. Nevertheless, the percentage of graduates who found jobs in private practice increased slightly from the previous year, and private practice remains the single largest source of jobs for new law school graduates. Over half (52.9%) of employed graduates obtained a job in private practice.

Legal Education | Permalink


That $72k median salary for the Class of 2008 is worth $83,554 in today’s dollars. So this new batch of numbers is STILL down 22.2% from before the law school crisis. I don’t believe tuition has decreased 22%. Or rent, for that matter.

Oh, and that 10.1% unemployed and unemployed-not-seeking rate is nearly twice the corresponding 5.6% unemployment rate for four-year college graduates last year. That JD versatility sure does work in strange ways…

From the full report: "Salaries of $180,000 accounted for almost 28% of reported law firm salaries."

Oh boy. From the ABA Journal: “Also, it was found that among the top 50 ranked law schools, 24 percent of recent graduates had large law firm jobs. Comparatively, the percentage last year was 23 percent. The country’s top 100 law firms hired 3,521 new associates in 2016.” So we have 3,521 Biglaw jobs at the firms that might pay $180k (a rate which has not been as well-received nationally or in the “second 100” firms as the old $160k mark was a decade ago) out of 35,815 graduates. So those salaries were realized by a shade under 10% of graduates but reflect 28% of NALP’s salary information; a proportion that not even the top 50 law schools can match. Uh huh.

“The number of jobs found by graduates was down by more than 2,000 compared with 2015.”

Allow me to quote Ted Seto from this very website back in 2013: “Unless something truly extraordinary has happened to non-cyclical demand, a degrees-awarded-per-capita analysis suggests that beginning in fall 2015 and intensifying into 2016 employers are likely to experience an undersupply of law grads, provided that the economic recovery continues.”

To his credit, Seto’s prediction for the national Class of 2016 was 35,954, or within 1.25% of the actual number. Must be structural change, then. Which even the NALP admits in its executive director’s editorial:

“for law firms of every size, growing efficiencies created by technology and business systems, and increased competition from non-traditional legal services providers will both likely continue to put downward pressure on overall law firm lawyer headcount in the coming years and even decades.”

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 2, 2017 4:47:12 PM