\par New Legal Market Data A Mixed Bag \par

New Legal Market Data A Mixed Bag

The American Bar Association (ABA) recently released its 2014 law graduate employment data. This measures the employment status of graduates as of March 15, 2015, roughly 10 months after graduation for most students (though at Baylor the timeframe can be as short as seven months and as long as 16 months, depending on which quarter the student graduated). The results are somewhat a mixed bag. To analyze these numbers we’re going to be looking at data from both the ABA and the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). The ABA didn’t begin collecting this employment data until recently, but the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) has been doing so for many years. Though the two do have some reporting differences, for the broad purposes we’ll be addressing, they are negligible and don’t prevent using both to complement each other. \par \par The good news is there was a slight increase in the employment rate of entry-level law graduates from 2013 to 2014. According to the ABA data out last month, 59.9% of graduates found employment in a full-time (FT), long-term (LT), bar passage (Bar) required position; that figure was 57.0% in 2013. 11.2% of graduates obtained full-time, long-term positions in positions where having a JD was an advantage; that figure was 10.1% in 2013. The unemployed and still-seeking number dropped from 11.2% in 2013 to 9.8% in 2014. This is encouraging and is a sign the market is beginning to rebalance after a dramatic shift during and immediately after the recession of 2008.\par \par However, there are three reasons why this improvement should be looked at with cautiousness. The first is that the “as-of” reporting date used for collection of the 2014 data was moved back one month, from February to March, allowing extra time for graduates to obtain employment (when comparing to prior years; it won’t be an issue moving forward). \par \par Second, while the percentages went in the right direction, the total numbers did not. For example, there were fewer entry-level attorneys hired in that major category of FT/LT/Bar positions in 2014 than in 2013, even though the percentage hired in that category increased. Why the difference in the two indicators (percentage and total numbers)? Simply, there were nearly 3,000 fewer graduates in 2014 than in 2013, so the smaller denominator allowed for fewer positions to still register percentage increases. All that said, JD Advantage positions grew both as a percentage and in total numbers, so that’s a category to keep an eye on for potential opportunities.\par \par Finally, when you look at where these numbers are relative to pre-recession numbers, you see just how far removed the market continues to be from that peak era, and how far we have to go if we’re to ever get back to those levels. According to NALP, the 2006 and 2007 classes enjoyed FT/Bar positions at a clip of 69.9% and 68.9%, respectively. So you can see that while we’ve improved from the worst of times, we’re still down approximately 10% from pre-recession highs. In raw numbers, that equates to about 4,000 jobs nationwide.\par \par It’s my opinion we won’t return to anything like the 2006-2007 market anytime soon, and that we have to adjust our expectations accordingly. It’s helpful that the number of graduates came down from 2013 to 2014, and that trend looks to be continuing for the next few years. This will have the effect of raising the employment percentages (all other factors being equal) as it did this year, and creating a better balance between the number of jobs and the number of graduates. \par \par Next week I’ll take a more in-depth look at these numbers, including salaries, what’s going on with specific types of employers, and geographic trends you should be paying attention to.\par \par Connect with Daniel at Daniel_Hare@Baylor.edu and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.\par \par Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Texas Department of Public Safety Summer Law Clerk (2L and 3L, Austin) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply. \par ]]>\par

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