2017 graduates have best record of employment since recession

Washington (DC) — The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) has released its “Employment for the Class of 2017 — Selected Findings,” a summary from the upcoming annual Jobs & JDs: Employment and Salaries of New Law School Graduates — Class of 2017 report, coming out in October. This year’s findings show a rise of more than one full percentage point in the overall employment rate for the Class of 2017, to 88.6% of graduates for whom employment status was known, compared with 87.5% for the Class of 2016, even though the number of jobs found by graduates fell again, by more than 1,200.

“The employment outcomes findings for members of the Class of 2017 are surprisingly strong. Most notable is a bar passage required employment rate that jumped more than four percentage points from the previous year, and a private practice employment rate that has now increased for six years in a row,” noted James G. Leipold, NALP’s executive director. “Barring another economic slowdown or interruption and barring a significant jump in law school enrollment as a result of rising applications, the employment outlook for recent law school graduates looks brighter (if not exactly rosy) than it has at any time since 2008, and that is good news.”

Other highlights include:

—For the third year in a row the actual number of jobs obtained was flat or went down in virtually every sector except the largest law firms of more than 500 lawyers. 2017 graduates secured just 16,390 jobs in law firms of any size, down by more than 4,000 since the number of those jobs peaked for the Class of 2007. And while law firms of more than 500 lawyers hired more graduates than at any time since the recession, the number of entry-level jobs at those firms is still off by nearly 600 positions compared with the peak hiring measured with the Class of 2008.

—The size of the 2017 graduating class was smaller, with just 34,922 graduates entering the job market. (The Class of 2013 produced 46,776 job seekers.)

—The national median salary for the Class of 2017 was $70,000, up from $65,000 for the Class of 2016.

—Public service jobs accounted for 29.9% of jobs taken by graduates, compared with 29.5% in 2016.

The full report can be found at www.nalp.org/classof2017.