NALP and ABA Job Data Says: Recent Grads, We're All [Expletived]

By William Peacock, Esq. on April 15, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Told you we're screwed.

We're the many, the sad, the Class of 2011. And ladies and gents, we are rock bottom, at least in terms of employment.

That being said, from the data released last week, any gains over last year were modest, and those were barely above the year before, so while 2011 may mark the low point for law graduates, 2013 is barely a hair better.

How bad is it? We'll have our fingers crossed for my dear brother, a member of the Class of 2017.

NALP: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (With 2006)

2006. There were law school fairs, with big salaries pasted on signs.

Go here! Make bank! Pay off loans and get a Ferrari.

Per the National Law Journal, via the Wall Street Journal, the legal sector would go on to shed 60,000 jobs in 2008 and 2009, with only 15,000 of those positions returning since the crash. We aren't anywhere near getting back to boom times, and for those finding employment, their median salaries are dropping, in large part because BigLaw reduced hiring and because many JDs are flocking to non-law jobs in business and um, Starbucks.

And the most depressing part, for us 2011-ers: "I think the class of 2011 will historically come to be seen as the bottom of the market," Jim Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement noted.

That's nice, Jim.

ABA Job Data: Is 1 Percent Really an 'Improvement?'

Over the last week, we've seen tweets about "modest improvement," "still bleak," "up slightly," and other tepid assessments of the ABA's employment figures, released last week. Here are a few of the highlowlights:

  • 57 percent of 2013 graduates had full-time, long-term legal jobs requiring bar passage as of Feb. 15 (compared to 56.2 for the Class of 2012);
  • 10.2 percent of 2013 graduates had long-term, full-time jobs where a JD is preferred (compared to 9.5 percent for the Class of 2012);
  • 11.2 percent of 2013 graduates were unemployed (compared to 10.6 percent for the Class of 2012);
  • 4 percent of 2013 graduates had school-funded positions (compared to 3.9 percent for the Class of 2012).

If one were, say, a statistical cynic, they would point out that there are little things called margins of error and standard deviations. In non-math speak, this means that tiny, miniscule improvements (or failures in the case of the rising unemployment rate) mean nothing -- they are an unprovable statistical fluke.

The Class of 2013? Screwed. Class of 2012? Screwed. Class of 2011? Three years out, and still screwed.


Got hope? There is a half-full glass somewhere, found in the plummeting demand for law school seats. While jobs are only slowly (and statistically insignificantly) increasing, the supply of graduates is going to trend downward, as every conceivable measure of demand (LSAT tests administered, number of applicants and applications, enrollment figures) points to smaller graduating classes down the line.

That's good news for the currently unemployed and underemployed, who will be fighting the inexperienced grads for jobs, as well as the down-the-line graduates like the Class of 2017.

Good luck with that, dear brother. And keep a warm couch ready for me.

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