Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

ABA Releases Class Of 2020 Jobs Data: Pandemic, Delayed Bar Exams Push Full-Credit Jobs Rate Down 3.2 Percentage Points

ABA Legal Education Section Releases Employment Data For Graduating Law Class of 2020:

Employment data for the graduating law class of 2020 as reported by American Bar Association-approved law schools to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is now publicly available.

An online table provides select national outcomes and side-by-side comparisons for the classes of 2019 and 2020. Further reports on employment outcomes, including links to individual school outcomes and spreadsheets aggregating those reports, will be available within a few days on the ABA Required Disclosures page of the section’s website. ...

For the class of 2020, the aggregated school data shows that 26,638 (77.4% of total graduates) of the 2020 graduates of the 197 law schools enrolling students and approved by the ABA to offer the J.D. degree were employed in full-time, long-term Bar Passage Required or J.D. Advantage jobs roughly 10 months after graduation. That compares to 27,352 (80.6% of total graduates) of the graduates reporting similar full-time, long-term jobs last year.

ABA Chart

The change in percentages likely reflects the pandemic’s impact on the legal market, cancelations and delays to bar admission exam administrations and an approximately 1.4% increase in the size of the graduating class. The actual number of full-time, long-term Bar Passage Required or J.D. Advantage jobs decreased by 714 (-2.6%) year-over-year, going from 27,352 in 2019 to 26,638 in 2020.

Karen Sloan (, Pandemic Ends Six Years of Gains in Entry Level Law Jobs:

Legal education’s six-year streak of ever-stronger graduate employment outcomes has come to an end—seemingly a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The percentage of 2020 law graduates in fulltime, long term jobs that require bar passage or for which a J.D. offers an advantage 10 month after leaving campus was 77%, according to new entry level employment figures released by the American Bar Association Tuesday. That’s down from 81% for the class of 2019, and represents the first time that figure has decline year-over-year since 2013.

The pandemic is one factor that slowed law graduate hiring in 2020, but there were other forces at play too, according to the ABA. Many states delayed the July 2020 bar exam until September or October, meaning that many recent graduates were forced to wait months to apply for positions that require bar passage before hiring. New York bar examinees didn’t get their results until mid-December, for example. California did not release results until early January.

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