The median starting salaries for 2013 law school graduates rose slightly to nearly $62,500, according to data released by NALP Thursday. More grads also found jobs nine months out of school, but the unemployment rate rose due to the increased size of the graduating class.
The national median salary for the Class of 2013 was $62,467; the Class of 2011 saw a median starting salary of $61,245. But, the overall salary median and the median for law firm jobs specifically remain below those of 2008 and 2009, when the overall median was $72,000. NALP reports median salaries in other sectors have remained relatively flat in recent years.
Class of 2013 graduates found more jobs nine months after graduation as compared to the Class of 2012, but because last year’s graduating class was larger, the employment rate for 2013 fell 0.2 percentage points from the 84.7 percent rate for the Class of 2012.
Only 64.4 percent of 2013 graduates found a job that required bar passage, and for the second year in a row that is the lowest percentage NALP has measured. The data notes that employment in business reached a historic high of 18.4 percent and has exceeded 15 percent since 2010.
Solo practice jobs accounted for 4.8 percent of law firm jobs and 2.5 percent of all jobs for the Class of 2013. Public service jobs accounted for 27.6 percent of jobs taken by employed graduates, compared with 28.2 percent in 2012. NALP notes that this percentage has remained around 26 to 29 percent for more than 30 years.
“Law graduates must enter law school with the understanding that the jobs picture, while strengthening, is one that will continue to evolve, and in the course of that evolution it is almost certain that new opportunities will present themselves, just as it is certain that some traditional opportunities that law school graduates have long counted on will continue to erode,” said NALP Executive Director James Leipold. “It is not true that there are too many lawyers — indeed even today most Americans do not have adequate access to affordable legal services — but the traditional market for large numbers of law graduates by large law firms seeking equity-track new associates is not likely to ever return to what it was in 2006 or 2007, and thus aggregate earning opportunities for the class as a whole are not likely to return to what they were before the recession.”
The full data and text on the employment for the Class of 2013 is available on the NALP website.
The June 18-July 1, 2014, issue of Indiana Lawyer also includes data about the Class of 2013 and how law students have to think about employment long before graduation day.