A Record 1/3 of Law Grads' Jobs Don't Require Bar Passage

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on June 08, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Who needs to pass the bar exam anyway? Having a license to practice law may not be as important as it used to be, as new law grads face the worst legal job market in decades, a new report finds.

The Class of 2011 reports an overall employment rate of 85.6%, the lowest since 1994 when only 84.7% of new law-school graduates found work, according to the National Association for Law Placement's annual Employment Report and Salary Survey.

Of the 2011 graduates who found jobs, only 65.4% landed jobs that require bar passage -- an all-time low in the NALP survey. The survey also revealed:

  • 12.5% of employed 2011 grads have so-called "law-related" jobs for which a Juris Doctor is either recommended or required, but bar passage is not. That's an all-time high in the NALP survey.
  • Nearly 12% of employed 2011 grads held part-time jobs. That's up from about 5% in the years prior to 2008, when most 2011 grads started law school.
  • Another 7% of employed 2011 grads held temporary part-time jobs lasting less than a year, the survey found.

NALP's survey results aren't particularly surprising considering the current state of the economy. But they likely aren't what law grads were expecting when they embarked on their legal career paths, NALP's executive director said.

Many in the Class of 2011 were taking their LSATs in 2007, when a record-high 91.9% of law grads found jobs within nine months of graduation, according to NALP.

Back then, "there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing," NALP executive director James Leipold noted. "Yet by the time they graduated they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal employment market in more than 30 years."

Still, Leipold believes law grads' employment statistics will "begin to inch up," as it appears law firm recruitment is "modestly" increasing. A return to pre-recession employment levels, however, is not likely, he said.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard