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In 2013, law schools around the nation saw the largest graduation class than has been seen in any previously recorded graduation year. Due to the number of graduates, there were close to 400 new lawyers eligible to practice law than had been eligible in 2012. Unfortunately, those who graduated in 2013 have not had very good luck with locating legal positions. Data has been released by the American Bar Association which has proven there has been very slight, if any, growth to the legal job market.
Out of the 46,776 law students who graduated in 2013, 57 percent of them were able to find full time steady jobs which require students to pass the bar within a nine month period after graduation. This figure is up only slightly when compared to the 56.2 percent of students who graduated in 2012 who located full time legal positions after graduation. In 2012, the percentage of graduates who found jobs in which a Juris Doctor was desired, although not required, was at 9.5 percent. In 2013, that rose a small fraction to 10.1 percent who were able to locate the same type of jobs. There are however, 11.2 percent of graduating law students from 2013 who have not yet located work. The number of graduating law students unable to locate work was up .6 percent from the 2012 graduating year.
Scott Norberg, who is the deputy consultant to the American Bar Associations Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar stated, "The legal employment market has remained almost the same as last year, with a very modest uptick in outcomes. Unemployed and seeking went up slightly from last year." Norberg also stated that the law school career services departments had done a greater job of tracking graduates in 2013 as well as an improvement for tracking job data for 97.7 of the recent graduates. Norberg released his data while in Seattle at the NALP conference.
While the percentage of graduates working in industry and business professions increased from 14.9 to 15.2 percent, the number of 2013 graduates working at law firms which have from two to 500 attorneys rose less than 1 percent. However, the number of new attorneys who located jobs with large firms who employ more than 500 attorneys rose by around 10 percent.
Graduates working in government jobs rose from 10 percent to 10.6 percent. In 2012, graduates working in public interest legal positions were at 5.9 percent, and those positions went down to 4.8 percent in 2013. The American Bar Association cited that to the fact that definitions have changed with public defender positions. Public defender positions used to be classified as public interest positions. They are now, however, classified as government positions.
On a positive note, school financed positions rose to make up 4 percent of all legal jobs for graduates. This was up a bit from the 3.9 percent seen in 2012. In 2014, the American Bar Association will begin to track and report data from employment 10 months after graduation. This is being done in reference to many states who have said that students taking bar exams late were hurting their employment numbers because the graduates had less time to find a job after being able to practice. By preparing data beginning at 10 months after graduation, the figures should be more accurate per state collected employment data.
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