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Law school graduates looking for signs of hope in the latest hiring numbers released by the National Association for Law Placement won’t find many.

According to a report released on Wednesday, 2010 law school graduates faced the worst job market since 1996, when the legal market was still rebounding from the recession of the early 1990s.

Overall employment nine months after graduation stood at 87.6 percent, the lowest since 1996, when the rate was 87.4 percent. And the report notes that the overall number of “jobs taken”–legal and non-legal–by the class stood at 36,043, nearly identical to the “jobs taken” figure for 2009 (although the number of law graduates increased year to year). The class of 2010′s hiring rate is four percentage points lower than a 20-year employment rate high of 91.9 percent in 2007, NALP reports.

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