The ABA just updated its yearly employment figures for all accredited law schools. It’s mostly so-so news: there was very little change from last year’s results, when just 56.2% found employment in full-time, long-term jobs requiring a JD. This year’s crop of 2013 grads placed 57% percent out of a total 46,776 graduates into such jobs. Well it’s a slight improvement, it’s proof that the market for JDs is still very weak.
In better times, up to 85% of law school grads were able to quickly secure full-time, long–term legal jobs. The historical average is something closer to 75%.
While future law students are probably suffering from “message fatigue” from hearing this too much, it’s clear that it’s still a time to exercise extreme caution before you go to law school. That’s why we advise studying your butt off for the LSAT and only going if you are in position to go to a top school and/or reap substantial scholarships.
There is, however, some brightness peeking through on the horizon. Because 2013 saw a ton of law students graduating, there was a ton of competition for jobs. However, 2013’s class is the last of enrollment bubble caused when tons of students flocked to law school to wait out the recession. The number of law students graduating will shrink significantly in coming years as smaller classes come through the pipeline.
This year, about 10,000 fewer people enrolled than did for the 2013 graduating class, about a 20% reduction. That means far less competition by the time new and incoming law students are looking for jobs.
This is depressing indeed, hopefully in the next 5 yrs or so things will change.
Well yes, it’s bad. There’s no question about that. However, remember this represents the data for all the schools combined. In one way, that’s scary because a lot of schools are doing way worse than this ~55% figure, but a lot of schools are doing better and have seen marked improvements in the last few years. The T14 in particular are getting close to the kind of hiring figures they had before the recession and are placing more and more students into the largest firms.
Law school’s woes tend to obscure the fact that tier 3 and 4 law schools ALWAYS had pretty miserable hiring stats, even when things were good. That means people shouldn’t expect them to improve much. The top 100 law schools, however will do much better as smaller classes graduate.