Biglaw, Job Searches, Law Schools

Entry-Level Job Market Is Still Terrible, But The Class Of 2012 Really Should Have Seen That Coming

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, new employment numbers just came out, and it’s an old story of a soft job market.

Only 56 percent of the class of 2012 secured full-time, long-term legal employment within nine months of graduation. In this economy, that passes as good news because that figure is up one percent from last year. It’s kind like telling a terminally ill patient that his parking tickets got dismissed.

Law School Transparency reports that when you exclude school-funded jobs, the employment number falls to 55 percent. And there is more bad news when you dive deeper into the statistics.

But this is the class of 2012, the first class that really should have known that this was going to happen….

The class of 2012 started law school in the fall of 2009. The people who went to law school in the fall of 2009 went there on the hope and prayer that the job market would be magically better in 2012. I remember, like Lord Elrond — I was there all those years ago. People told me that focusing on the 2009 job market was totally useless and that things would be back to normal by 2012.

In a way, they are. It’s the new normal, and these kinds of middling employment stats are now the rule.

LST breaks down the numbers. My favorite reflection of the new normal is the look at what’s happening with Biglaw jobs:

12.2% of graduates were employed at large firms in full-time, long-term positions.

Graduates seek these jobs partly because they tend to pay the highest salaries.

Note that not all of these jobs are associate positions. An unknown number are paralegals, administrators, and staff attorneys.

At only 51 schools (25.5%) were more than 10% in these jobs.

27 schools (13.5%) had more than 20%;
14 schools (7.0%) had more than 33%;
8 schools (4.0%) had more than over 50%.

Only 12 percent of all 2012 law school graduates got what could even be generally called a “Biglaw” job, and only 50 or so law schools could place as much as ten percent of their graduates in such positions.

I really hope prospective law students thinking of taking on six figures of debt can hear that. I hope that the class of 2016, unlike the class of 2012, is making decisions based on the actual realities of the legal job market, not the wishful thinking of law school deans who make wholly unsupported statements about a grand legal employment rebound in the near future.

Law graduates’ jobs rate—and unemployment rate—increase only slightly [National Law Journal]
Law School Graduates Continue to Face Brutal Entry-Level Market [Law School Transparency]

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