Not a New Problem: How the State of the Legal Profession Has Been Secretly in Decline for Quite Some Time
56 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2012
Date Written: June 24, 2012
My goal was to provide an in-depth analysis of the job market for new law graduates over time, as well as the state of the legal field as a whole. Using historical records, I reached the following results:
- Depending on which dataset is used, of the 1.4 million law graduates of the last 40-years, 200,000-600,000 are not working as attorneys.
- Using NALP data, I calculate a True Employment Percentage (full-time, JD-required jobs excluding those who start their own practice) and find that it has been bad for a long time, not just recently. Over the last 25 years this percentage has averaged 68%, meaning 1 out of every 3 graduates couldn't find legal work. I also use regression to show that it is not correlated with bar passage rates.
- Using this True Employment Percentage, I found that the ABA should have stopped accrediting law schools in the mid-1970's.
- The ABA dataset shows that overall, these "newer" law schools have worse employment outcomes, especially for the most desirable jobs. For example, 16% of graduates of schools accredited before 1975 found employment in firms of 100 attorneys, while under 4% of graduates of schools accredited after this time did.
- Income inequality for starting salaries has been widening dramatically. Over the last 16 years, the 75th percentile real starting salary has increased 73%, while the 25th percentile real starting salary has increased just 11% (almost all of it occurring before 2000).
Keywords: law school, graduation, unemployed, NALP, bar passage, ABA, accredited, bar exam, employment rate, unemployment rate
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