The employment picture for new lawyers continues to improve, another indication that the legal profession has bounced back from the employment headwinds caused by the 2020 pandemic.
Data released April 25 by the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar shows that 84.6% of the 2022 graduates of ABA-approved law schools found full-time jobs for which bar passage was a requirement or an advantage. While that figure was up 1.6 percentage points from the year earlier, the two-year improvement has jumped about 7.5 percentage points from the havoc in legal hiring of three years ago.
“This is the second consecutive year of positive job growth,” said Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education. “While modest in the number of new jobs nationwide this year, when added to the previous year’s increase the job market for newly minted attorneys has clearly recovered. Interestingly, the growth in the number of jobs in law firms rather than other aspects of the law shows the largest gain in percentage points.”
Each year’s job report measures law graduate employment on March 15, which is approximately 10 months after spring graduation. The statistical tally is part of the information collected and released by the section to help in the law school decision-making process.
As a percentage change, the number of law graduates going into public interest law showed the biggest jump. While still small in numbers, 3,297 law graduates or 9.1% of the 2022 graduating class went into that sector — a 10.3% jump from the year before. The number of graduates entering “Business & Industry,” meanwhile, dropped 9.4% from 2021.
Both the 3.8% increase in law firm jobs and the decrease in business employment reflect continuation of recent trends. The number of new graduates entering firms, for instance, has increased by 11.3 percentage points in the past decade while the number of those getting jobs in the business sector has fallen about 6 percentage points since 2014.
The new ABA data supports other evidence that new hiring in the legal profession continues to be strong. In September 2022, the National Association for Law Placement issued a report that showed the employment outcome for 2021 law graduates “was one of the strongest on record.”
- Employment outcomes: Law school class of 2022
- ABA Legal Education Statistics and Required Disclosures for Individual Schools
- 2022 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession (See Legal Education chapter)
- National Association for Law Placement: “Job Market for Class of 2021 Law Graduates Was One of the Strongest on Record”
- ABA Journal: “For 2022 law grads, bar-pass-required jobs increase, while JD-advantage positions decrease”