Major Legal Employment Study Shows Law Graduate Employment Better Than Expected

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Cooley Law School has released a series of reports on legal employment in the United States.  The purpose of this study is to insert the nation’s most authoritative data into the public dialogue about the national legal employment picture.  Cooley invites you to comment to this blog.

Much of the current discussion in the media and on the blogs about employment in the legal profession is unsubstantiated, anecdotal, misleading, and incorrect.  Cooley Law School thus decided to study the subject based upon the most authoritative data that can be found — data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Association for Law Placement (NALP).  The study is presented in two reports.

Report One covers the national employment data compiled by the BLS.  It establishes that employment for lawyers grew during the past decade, even during the recession, and that the environment in the legal profession that awaits law school graduates reflects relatively full employment, particularly in comparison to other professional and management occupations.

Among the BLS top ten management and professional occupational subcategories, employment in legal occupations was bettered only by those employed as healthcare practitioners and technicians.  Lawyers are among the occupations least affected by the recent recession.

Report Two puts into perspective public discussion about the employment outlook for recent graduates from ABA-accredited law schools by placing NALP data for those graduates a 10-year context.  It explains why the employment data used by NALP to establish employment and unemployment rates among recent graduates is both accurate and reliable.  (The 2011 NALP report data has not been released publicly. We will update the report for 2011 once the data is public.)  Report Two concludes that, contrary to the perception advanced by certain media and blogs, the employment rate is very good for law school graduates.

The unemployment rate for 2010 law school graduates who sought to enter the job market was 6.2 percent, and these graduates overwhelmingly obtained full-time professional employment.  While the job market is more challenging now than three years ago, within nine months of graduation around 90.5 percent of the newly-minted lawyers either found employment or entered graduate school.  Of this employed group, 96.7 percent of them reported having found professional employment, and 90.2 percent of those professional positions were full time.

Reports One and Two contradict the assertions that are widespread on blogs and in a segment of the media regarding the employment situation for lawyers, refuting the notion that unemployment among current lawyers and law school graduates is high.  Looking at the data in this context highlights the invalid assumptions and faulty logic in the arguments used by the critics and shows that their conclusions are inaccurate and misleading.  Rather, the facts overwhelmingly discredit these assertions.  Legal education is actually one of the best choices for a career.

Read these reports and tell us what you think by commenting to this blog site.  Also see our media release on the topic.  For more information about Cooley, see generally our website.


Filed under Knowledge, Skills, Ethics, Latest News and Updates, The Value of a Legal Education

2 responses to “Major Legal Employment Study Shows Law Graduate Employment Better Than Expected

  1. Anonymous

    Does this report look into the quality of the jobs?

    • CooleyLawSchoolBlog

      It does insofar as it relies on the NALP and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. But more, it shows that the uninformed critics “have manipulated the NALP data to cast the situation in the worst possible false light.”

      The report puts the current job market for recent law graduates in appropriate perspective by showing that, although the market is challenging, it is better than was the market following the recession of the 1991-92 and is about the same as it was following the recessions of the early 1980s and of 1973-75. And this is so even though the current recession is far worse than the last three.

      The report concludes that the critics’ “false assertions may unfortunately be deterring worthy candidates from considering becoming a lawyer – a profession that has one of the lowest unemployment rates, one of the most stable job markets, and is one of the least susceptible to the effects of economic recession.” On this latter point, Cooley refers the reader to our blog posting that is on point:

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