Law School-Funded Jobs — 2011-2014

NALP Bulletin, September 2015

NALP’s tracking of law school funding of jobs started with the Class of 2011. During that time, the number of law school-funded jobs — defined to include bridge-to-practice fellowships of a fixed duration, fixed duration opportunities on campus, such as research assistant positions, and school-funded fellowships — has fluctuated in a range of about 1,400 to 1,700. The table accompanying this article summarizes some of the characteristics of these jobs over this time period. Some measures have been relatively steady; others have changed considerably.

Perhaps most dramatic is the shift of these jobs from being mostly short-term and mostly part-time to being mostly full-time — and the majority also long-term. For example, for the Class of 2011, 61% of law school-funded jobs were reported as short-term and part-time. This figure has decreased to just 19% for the Class of 2014, while the percentage of jobs that are both full-time and long-term (with long-term defined as one year or more) has grown from just 8% to almost 60%. And while the split of these jobs between “Bar Passage Required/Anticipated” and “JD Advantage” has shifted a small amount, the percentage of jobs that are “Bar Passage Required/Anticipated” and full-time and long-term has grown dramatically, from less than 8% to over half.

What hasn’t changed so much are the employment settings for these jobs, with government and public interest organizations dominating, followed by academic settings — although the latter’s share has declined somewhat.

Finally, it is evident that law school-funded jobs have helped the overall employment rate, accounting for 3-4 percentage points of the employment rate since 2011. What is not known, however, is what the status of the graduates with these jobs would have been in the absence of those jobs. It is unlikely that all would have been unemployed; however some of the alternative employment could well have been unrelated to the law training of these graduates.

Note: In late July the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar took action on a recommendation from the ABA’s Data Policy and Collection Committee that will change the way schools must report these law school-funded jobs. In the future, it will be required that school-funded positions that pay less than $40,000 per year be reported as short term jobs, regardless of whether they last for one year or longer.

Law School Funded Jobs — Selected Characteristics, 2011-2014

  Graduating Class Year
  2011 2012 2013 2014
Number of jobs* 1,735 1,575 1,701 1,445
    % of all jobs 4.9% 4.2% 4.5% 4.0%
General Job Characteristics
    Full-time and long-term 8.1% 32.4% 48.3% 59.5%
    Full-time and short-term 27.6 20.6 19.8 18.3
    Part-time and long-term 3.3 5.1 2.1 2.7
    Part-time and short-term 61.0 41.8 29.9 19.4
Type of Job**
Bar passage required/anticipated — total 71.6% 72.0% 77.1% 79.3%
    Full-time and long-term 7.6 26.7 43.7 55.4
    Full-time and short-term 19.4 16.3 15.6 11.8
    Part-time and long-term 2.9 4.4 1.5 2.0
    Part-time and short-term 41.6 24.6 16.3 10.1
JD Advantage — total 28.0% 27.3% 22.4% 20.4%
    Full-time and long-term 0.5 5.6 4.6 4.0
    Full-time and short-term 8.0 4.3 4.2 6.4
    Part-time and long-term 0.3 7.6 0.5 0.7
    Part-time and short-term 19.1 16.6 13.2 9.2
Employment settings***
    Academic 20.9% 21.5% 20.9% 17.1%
    Government 22.6 22.7 23.4 24.5
    Public Interest 41.6 41.9 42.8 45.7
    Business 2.1 1.4 2.1 2.3
    Judicial Clerkships 6.1 5.1 4.8 4.8
    Law Firms 6.6 7.0 6.1 5.7

* Figures for 2011 and 2012 exclude a few jobs for which full-time/part-time or duration information was not reported. Also a few jobs for which the school funds the first year of the salary or start-up costs are not included.
** Percentages do not add to 100 because other kinds of jobs are not shown.
*** Percentages may not add to 100 because employment setting was not reported for a few jobs.

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