April 20, 2021

ABA legal education section releases employment data for graduating law class of 2020

CHICAGO, April 20, 2021 — Employment data for the graduating law class of 2020 as reported by American Bar Association-approved law schools to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is now publicly available.

An online table provides select national outcomes and side-by-side comparisons for the classes of 2019 and 2020. Further reports on employment outcomes, including links to individual school outcomes and spreadsheets aggregating those reports, will be available within a few days on the ABA Required Disclosures page of the section’s website. Schools can make minor corrections to their individual school outcomes for the Class of 2020 until December 20. These corrections will be reflected in the Employment Summary Reports that are required to be posted publicly on their website, as well as on the ABA Required Disclosures page.

Each year’s employment outcomes measure law graduate employment on March 15, which is approximately 10 months after spring graduation. The reporting by schools of employment for the class of 2020 is consistent with previous years, although the public release of the data for the class of 2019 was delayed a year ago for about six weeks because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To convey the unique nature of the Class of 2020 employment data, all schools are required to include the following disclaimer with their Employment Summary Reports:

“Information on employment outcomes for the Class of 2020 may not reflect a particular law school’s typical results in this area. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, bar admission exams were canceled or delayed in many jurisdictions, thus making it more challenging for graduates to secure employment by the annual Graduate Employment Status Date of March 15. Please reference the 3 years of employment outcome data posted on the ABA Required Disclosures webpage of each ABA-Approved Law School or at www.abarequireddisclosures.org.”

Additionally, schools are required to use an ABA-approved disclaimer and follow specific guidelines if reporting additional, optional, post-March 15 employment outcome data to consumers.

For the class of 2020, the aggregated school data shows that 26,638 (77.4% of total graduates) of the 2020 graduates of the 197 law schools enrolling students and approved by the ABA to offer the J.D. degree were employed in full-time, long-term Bar Passage Required or J.D. Advantage jobs roughly 10 months after graduation. That compares to 27,352 (80.6% of total graduates) of the graduates reporting similar full-time, long-term jobs last year.

The change in percentages likely reflects the pandemic’s impact on the legal market, cancelations and delays to bar admission exam administrations and an approximately 1.4% increase in the size of the graduating class. The actual number of full-time, long-term Bar Passage Required or J.D. Advantage jobs decreased by 714 (-2.6%) year-over-year, going from 27,352 in 2019 to 26,638 in 2020.

The ABA’s accrediting body, under Standard 509 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, requires schools to report to the ABA and publicly disclose varied information, including employment outcomes. Employment and other statistics are posted to the section’s statistics website. Bar passage data will be posted later this spring.

The Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the national accrediting agency for programs leading to the J.D. The section’s 14,000 members strive to improve legal education and lawyer licensing by fostering cooperation among legal educators, practitioners and judges through workshops, conferences and publications. The section also studies and makes recommendations for the improvement of the bar admission process, and the section and its governing council operate for accreditation purposes as independent arms of the ABA.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews).