Law graduate employment data released by ABA

 The American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar recently released data on law graduate employment outcomes for the class of 2013. The data covers the employment status of the 2013 graduates of ABA-approved law schools as of Feb. 15, 2014, approximately nine months after spring 2013 graduation.

Law schools reported that 57 percent of graduates of the class of 2013 were employed in long-term, full-time positions where bar passage was required, compared with 56.2 percent for the class of 2012. In addition, 10.1 percent of graduates of the class of 2013 were employed in long-term, full-time positions where holding a J.D. provides an advantage in obtaining or performing the job, compared with 9.5 percent for the class of 2012.

Schools reported outcomes for 97.7 percent of their 2013 graduates. The size of the 2013 graduating class was the largest ever at 46,776, slightly larger than the 2012 class of 46,364. The data show both more jobs and a slightly higher percentage of graduates obtaining jobs in which a J.D. was required or considered relevant.

Other employment data reported by schools to the Section indicate that:

• The percentage of graduates reported as unemployed/seeking employment rose to 11.2 percent of total graduates from 10.6 percent.

• The percentage of positions funded by law schools increased incrementally to 4 percent of total graduates from 3.9 percent.

• While the percentage of law firm positions (2 to 500+ lawyers) increased only marginally, to 39.6 percent of total graduates from 39.3 percent, hiring at law firms of 500+ lawyers rose by nearly 10 percent, from 3,643 to 3,989 positions.

• The percentage of graduates employed in business and industry increased to 15.2 percent of total graduates from 14.9 percent.

• The percentage of graduates employed in government positions increased to 10.6 percent of all graduates from 10 percent, while the percentage of graduates employed in public interest positions fell from 5.9 percent to 4.8 percent. These changes are due at least in part to a change in definitions: Government public defender positions are now classified as government positions, whereas previously they were classified as public interest positions.

An online chart provides selected definitions and aggregate data breakdowns with comparisons to the previous year. The complete data set and school-by-school employment summaries are available online at http://employmentsummary.abaquestionnaire.org/. These data are as reported to the ABA by law schools on March 17, 2014.

The council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and its accreditation committee are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the national accrediting agency for programs leading to the J.D. The section’s 14,000 members strive to improve legal education and lawyer licensing by fostering cooperation among legal educators, practitioners and judges through workshops, conferences and publications. The section also studies and makes recommendations for the improvement of the bar admission process.