The law school class of 2013 didn’t have much better luck than their predecessors in finding jobs, as entry-level employment data released Wednesday by the American Bar Association revealed that very little changed in the hiring market.
Altogether, 57 percent of the 46,776 students who graduated in 2013 found full-time, long-term jobs that required bar passage within nine months of graduation, compared with 56.2 percent the previous year. An additional 10.1 percent landed jobs for which a J.D. is an advantage but not required. That was up from 9.5 percent for that category during the previous year.
The percentage of recent graduates who were still looking for work rose from 10.6 percent last year to 11.2 percent for the class of 2013.
“The legal employment market has remained almost the same as last year, with a very modest uptick in outcomes, said Scott Norberg, deputy consultant to the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. “Unemployed and seeking went up slightly from last year.”
Law school career services departments did a better job of accounting for graduates this year, he said, collecting jobs data for 97.7 percent of all recent graduates. The class of 2013 was the largest graduating law school class ever, with about 400 more newly minted lawyers than the previous year.
Norberg presented the findings during the NALP (formerly the National Association for Legal Placement) annual conference in Seattle.
The number of new lawyers employed at law firms of more than 500 attorneys increased by about 10 percent, from 3,643 to 3,989. However, the number of new graduates at law firms of between two and 500 attorneys grew by less than 1 percent. The percentage of graduates in jobs in business and industry grew from 14.9 percent to 15.2 percent.
The percentage of recent graduates in government jobs increased slightly, from 10 percent to 10.6 percent, while 4.8 percent were in public-interest legal jobs, down from 5.9 percent. The ABA attributed some of that decline to the changing definition of public defender positions: They used to be categorized as public-interest jobs but now count as government jobs.
Finally, there was a slight uptick in the percentage of graduates in jobs funded by their law schools. School-funded jobs accounted for 4 percent of all jobs, up slightly from 3.9 percent the previous year.
Starting next year, the ABA will collect and report employment data 10 months after graduation. The change came after law deans in several states argued that late bar exam results were hurting their jobs numbers because students had less time to find a job after being admitted to practice.