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Placement officers at Georgia law schools report another solid but unspectacular year as graduates wait a little longer for jobs that pay about the same as they have the past several years. Although the state’s four accredited law schools have yet to compile final placement data, career specialists say their schools’ 2004 graduates have been earning comparable pay and placement to last year’s graduates. The same holds true nationally, according to the National Association for Law Placement. “We’ve seen a fairly stable and consistent flat job market,” said James G. Leipold, executive director of NALP, which will release its annual report on first-year associate salaries later this year. “Not a lot of growth but no shrinkage either.” In 2003, the NALP reports, the median starting salary for full-time jobs was $55,000 — $5,000 less than the previous year’s mark. At Emory University School of Law, some third-year students sweated out job offers through final classes and even the summer. “There were a lot of offers towards the end of the [school] year,” said Patricia D. White, an Emory interim assistant dean. “A lot of people had to wait longer than they would have liked.” Those who accepted jobs earned salaries in line with last year’s graduates. “I think it’s an employers’ market now,” White said. “When you’re the one with the control in the supply and demand equation, you don’t have to pay as much.” This year’s 129 Mercer University School of Law graduates appear to be finding work at the same rate as the school’s 2003 graduates, but their pay has increased slightly. “Not by a huge amount, but they’re up,” said Ivonne Betancourt, interim director of Mercer law school’s career services office. Vickie Brown, the director of Georgia State University College of Law’s career services, reports a marginal increase in job placement and flat salaries for the school’s graduates. Those who still haven’t found jobs can generally expect to wait a bit longer, said Beth S. Kirch, director of the University of Georgia School of Law’s legal career services. “They’re in that lull in between taking the bar and getting the bar results,” she said. “With the bar results being so close, a lot of employers will hold off on sealing the deal until October.” The majority of the 2004 Emory and University of Georgia graduates took jobs in Atlanta, while many of the others landed employment in New York or Washington, placement officers said. Mercer and Georgia State graduates who aren’t working in Atlanta generally opted to stay in the Southeast region, the schools said.

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