The National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP) has issued its findings and analysis of employment trends for the law school class of 2010, and it’s almost all bad news. The annual NALP hiring report examines the employment status of law grads in February, nine months after graduation.
- ”[A]t 87.6%, the overall employment rate for new law school graduates is the lowest it has been since 1996.”
- ”[O]f those graduates for whom employment was known, only 68.4% obtained a job for which bar passage is required. This compares with 70.8% for the Class of 2009 and 74.7% for the Class of 2008 and is the lowest percentage NALP has ever measured.” (emphasis added)
- ”[O]nly 71% of the jobs reported were both full-time and permanent. Overall, nearly 27% of all jobs taken by members of this class were classified as temporary . . .. Eleven percent of all jobs taken were classified as part-time [and] 8% of all jobs were both temporary and part-time.” (emphasis added)
- ”[A] much higher percentage of this class reported that even though they were employed, they were still looking for work (23% reported that they were still seeking work even though employed, compared with 16% for the Class of 2008), suggesting that graduates took jobs they may not have been satisfied with simply to be able to earn some money to offset their living expenses and begin paying on their student debt.” (emphasis added)
(All quotes from NALP, Employment for the Class of 2010—Selected Findings (PDF))
But wait, there’s more: AmLaw Daily reports that, according to data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the legal employment market continues to bleed jobs, losing 1,000 in May, and 2,700 since this time last year.
The bottom line remains the same: a law degree (and the time and money it takes to get one) does not guarantee you a job. Moreover, the likely financial return on the significant initial investment in the degree (on average around $100,000 these days) does not make sense on a purely cost/benefit basis. Now more than ever, it is critical that you explore the field in depth before deciding to apply to and attend law school, and make sure that you will love being a lawyer—enough to make the investment worth it. Don’t rush into law school on the assumption that a well-paying job will be waiting for you at the other end.