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Newly minted lawyers see uptick in jobs picture

New employment data for the law school class of 2018, released April 29 by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, indicates that the employment market for law graduates has stabilized since 2012-13 and continues to show incremental improvement.

The section posted an online table indicating that 78.6 percent of the 2018 graduates of 200 law schools were employed in full-time long-term jobs that either required or placed a priority on bar passage roughly 10 months after graduation. That compares to 75.3 percent of the graduates reporting similar full-time long-term jobs last year.

The uptick results from both a modest increase in jobs and an approximately 2 percent decrease in the size of the graduating class. The actual number of full-time long-term jobs in these two categories increased by 714 (2.72 percent) year-over-year, going from 26,293 in 2017 to 27,007 in 2018. The statistics represented law schools accredited by the ABA and still enrolling students.

The ABA’s accrediting body requires schools to report to the ABA and publicly disclose information, including employment outcomes. Employment and other statistics are posted on the section’s statistics website. In April, the section released both individual school and aggregate bar passage statistics.

The ABA does not collect salaries for these positions. But, the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) reported last year that both the mean (average) and median (midpoint) for law salaries for new lawyers rose between the class of 2016 and class of 2017: For reported salaries, the mean rose from $90,305 to $95,320, while the median increased from $65,000 to $70,000.

The section’s Council, an independent arm of the ABA, is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the national accrediting agency for programs leading to the J.D. degree.

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