The overall employment rate for 2012 law school graduates is at the lowest its been in nearly 20 years, according to data released by NALP Thursday.
NALP looks at the employment rate of law grads as of Feb. 15, which is nine months after a May graduation. The Class of 2012 obtained more jobs than the 2011 grads, but this was because the 2012 class was larger. The overall employment rate fell to 84.7 percent, which is the lowest since 1994, NALP reports. Since 1985, only two classes have had an overall employment rate below 84.7 percent – grads from 1992 and 1993.
The overall employment rate has now fallen five years in a row.
“It is important to understand that the jobs picture is improving, if only slightly. This class found more jobs — and more jobs in private practice — than the previous class, but because the national graduating class was so much bigger, the overall employment rate continued to fall,” NALP Executive Director James Leipold said. “Median starting salaries for this class have also rebounded slightly, reflecting the availability of more jobs with the largest law firms — those that pay the highest salaries — than existed for the previous class. On the other hand, the percentage of graduates who found full-time, long term employment in jobs requiring bar passage remained below 60 percent.
“It is a story of good news and bad news at this point. I continue to believe that the Class of 2011 represented the absolute bottom of the curve on the jobs front, and the results for the Class of 2012 bear that out, showing, as they do, a number of improving markers."
The national median salary for the Class of 2012 based on the reported salaries was $61,245 as compared to $60,000 for the previous class. The national mean for last year’s class also improved to $80,798 as compared to $78,653 for the Class of 2011.
NALP also found that only 64.4 percent of 2012 graduates obtained jobs that required bar passage – the lowest percentage the organization has ever measured. Half of graduates found legal or other jobs in the private sector, with the business sector coming in second at nearly 18 percent.
The full report can be read here.