The Job Market for New Lawyers: Now We Know For Sure That It's As Bad As We Thought

The Job Market for New Lawyers: Now We Know For Sure That It's As Bad As We Thought
In which new Arkansas lawyers find it tough to get a job. (Arkansas Business)

As Mark Friedman reported in a June 4 cover story in Arkansas Business, it's tough out there for new lawyers looking for a job.

While close to two-thirds of Arkansas' 2011 new lawyers class had a job as an attorney nine months after graduation, the state's two law schools said that the number of those who didn't find work had increased to levels not seen in years.

That's left a lot of students -- students with big law school debt -- having to find other ways to make a living. Beyond Arkansas, some jobless new lawyers have even sued their law schools.

Today, the Wall Street Journal brings more data to the table -- courtesy of the American Bar Association -- of just how bad things are. Under pressure from desperate, jobless and hungry young lawyers, the ABA has -- for the first time ever -- released data detailing the number of previous year's graduates who were able to beat the odds and get full-time, permanent jobs as lawyers.

The data? Not reassuring!

The numbers suggest the job market for law grads is worse than previously thought. Nationwide, only 55% of the class of 2011 had full-time, long-term jobs that required a law degree nine months after graduation. The ABA defines "long-term" jobs as those that don't have a term of less than one year. ...

The new details are likely to feed a debate about the value of a law degree. More than 40,000 students enter the law-job market annually. In the past year, law-school graduates have filed more than a dozen lawsuits around the country alleging that some schools misled students with job-placement statistics.

The data also support that idea that -- surprise! -- students in the country's top law firms have little trouble finding work, while those schools in the bottom 80 percent could only place students at a rate of 50 percent or less.

The ABA has all the ugly numbers right here.