Class of 2011 faced 'brutal' entry-level job market

June 8, 2012
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NALP has released its employment profile for law school graduates from 2011 and the numbers aren’t great. In fact, they are some of the worse NALP – The Association for Legal Career Professionals – has seen in years.

The overall employment rate for new law school graduates is 85.6 percent, the lowest it’s been since 1994. Nine months after graduating, only two-thirds of new attorneys are employed in a job that requires passing the bar.

NALP Executive Director James Leipold described the entry-level job market for these graduates 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,” he wrote in a commentary on NALP’s findings, which were released Thursday.

Less than half of employed graduates are in private practice; only once before 2011 in the 38 years NALP has been collecting employment data has this number been below 50 percent. About 18 percent were employed in business, 7.5 percent in public interest, and 9.3 percent as judicial clerks. Graduates also said they were employed in academic areas, the military and other government jobs.

As of Feb. 15, 2012, nearly 10 percent of graduates were still seeking a job, 2.5 percent weren’t looking for work, and 2.3 percent decided to continue their studies full-time. Nearly 12 percent had jobs that were considered part-time.

“I am often asked if there are signs that the entry-level job market is recovering. Certainly the employment outcomes data for the Class of 2011 document a very distressed job market. This class may represent the bottom of the employment curve for this economic cycle,” Leipold said.

Notre Dame Law School reports that of its 190 graduates from 2011, 174 are employed – 172 full-time and only two part-time. A little over 40 of those employed are working only for a short term, the highest number in four years. Only 15 graduates in 2008 reported working for a short term.

Of those employed, 162 jobs require a law degree and nine have a JD advantage.

At Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, 87 percent of 252 graduates reported being employed, with 193 of those finding work on a permanent basis. Of those employed, 145 have jobs that require a law degree, and 23 have jobs where having a law degree is an advantage.

Nearly half are employed at law firms; “business or industry” is the next largest employment area at 22.82 percent. Of those working at law firms, 51 work in firms with two to 10 attorneys; six reported starting their own practices.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law and Valparaiso University Law School did not have 2011 class statistics posted (or where I could easily find them) on their websites.

You can view the select findings on the Class of 2011 on NALP’s website.

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