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.