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April 18, 2022

ABA legal education section releases employment data for graduating law class of 2021

CHICAGO, April 18, 2022 — Employment data for the graduating law class of 2021 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 2020 and 2021. Further reports on employment outcomes, including links to individual school outcomes and spreadsheets aggregating those reports, are now available 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 2021 until Dec. 20. These corrections will be reflected in the Employment Summary Reports that are required to be posted publicly on their websites, 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. Under Interpretation 509-2 of Standard 509, law schools are permitted to publicize additional employment outcome data beyond what the Employment Protocols require as long as the information complies with Standard 509(a). Standard 509(a) requires that all information that a law school reports, publicizes or distributes shall be complete, accurate and not misleading to a reasonable law school student or applicant.

For the class of 2021, the aggregated school data shows that 29,624 or 83% of the 2021 graduates of the 196 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 26,638 or 77.4% of the graduates reporting similar full-time, long-term jobs last year. The actual number of full-time, long-term Bar Passage Required or J.D. Advantage jobs increased by 2,986 (+11.2%) year-over-year.

“The higher percentage of graduates in the Bar Passage Required or J.D. Advantage jobs likely reflects a modest increase in the number of jobs nationwide, perhaps due to the legal market’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic,” said Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education. “This is encouraging given there was also a 3.8% increase in the number of total graduates.”

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 web page. Bar passage data will be posted later this month.

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.