NALP Bulletin, August 2014
The overall employment rate for the Class of 2013 was 84.5% of graduates for whom employment status was known — the lowest rate in 20 years, continuing a decline that started in 2008, albeit a very small decline compared with those from 2008 to 2012. (See the table entitled "Employment Trends — 1985-2013.")
The employment rate for new law school graduates has fallen 7.4 percentage points since reaching 91.9% in 2007, the highest rate in the past 25 years. Although the employment picture for this class contained some positive markers as graduates found more jobs than the previous class and more of these jobs were full-time and long-term, the graduating class was also larger, more than offsetting the growth in the number of jobs. For more insight into the employment picture for the Class of 2013, see "Employment for the Class of 2013 - Selected Findings" posted at www.nalp.org/classof2013.
Just over 51% of employed graduates obtained a job in private practice, the highest percentage since 2010, but nonetheless below the prevailing levels of 55% to 64% of jobs for the 25 years prior to 2010. As shown in the table entitled "Law Firm Jobs by Firm Size — Classes of 1982-2013," the distribution of these jobs by firm size has changed over the years. For many years, jobs in firms of 2-10 lawyers outnumbered those in firms of more than 100 lawyers. In 1998, the pattern reversed, and up until the Class of 2010 the number of jobs taken in firms of more than 100 lawyers outnumbered those taken in firms of 2-10 lawyers.
Starting with the Class of 2010 there was a sharp reversal, with jobs in small firms outnumbering those in firms of more than 100 lawyers for the first time since 1997. The difference grew wider with the Class of 2011 but has shrunk in the two most recent years as large firm hiring has rebounded somewhat. It remains the case, however, that the proportion of jobs in either very small or large firms has accounted for at least 70% of law firm jobs since 2000. Finally, the percentage of law firm jobs reported as a solo practice has decreased since 2011. Nonetheless, the rate of solo practice jobs remains relatively high compared to non-recessionary periods such as the late 1980s and the early 2000s.
|OF THOSE FOR WHOM EMPLOYMENT STATUS WAS KNOWN|
|Year||% Employed||% Employed
|% Continuing Studies||% of Jobs |
in Law Firms
|% Employed in Positions Requiring Bar Passage||% Employed in Positions Where JD Is an Advantage||% Employed in Other Professional Positions||% Employed in Non-Professional Positions|
Note: Overall employment rates for 1990-1998 are based on all graduates for whom employment status was known, excluding a small number known to be employed but for whom basic job type was not known. Overall rates for all other years include such graduates, and thus may not necessarily be obtained by adding up figures for individual job types. Also, in 1985 and 1986, multiple jobs held by one person were reported separately; hence legal and other employment percentages for these years reflect positions taken rather than individuals and cannot be added to obtain the overall employment rate. The percentage not working includes graduates seeking employment as well as those neither working in any capacity nor actively seeking a job. Starting in 2011, the figure includes graduates who had accepted an offer of employment but had not started the job as of February 15. New job classifications effective with the Class of 2001 preclude direct comparisons of job types with prior years.
|Year||SIZE OF FIRM (NUMBER OF LAWYERS)|
|Solo||2-10||11-25||26-50||51-100||101 or more|
Note: Figures for 1989 and 1990 reflect only full-time law firm jobs; for all other years figures reflect all law firm jobs acquired by graduates. Figures in this table differ slightly from those published in national reports (Employment Report & Salary Survey/Jobs & JDs) because law firm jobs for which firm size was not reported are excluded from the base.