Class of 2015 Employment: How Bad Is It?

May 3rd, 2016 / By

After a few data glitches, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has released its report on employment outcomes for the Class of 2015. The Section’s scorecard, comparing the Class of 2015 to the Class of 2014, appears here.

The numbers are pretty sobering: Absolute numbers declined in every employment category. Law firms, for example, hired 1,574 fewer graduates than they did in 2014. That’s a dismaying decrease of 8.8%. Government employers showed similar retrenchment: They too hired 8.8% fewer graduates in 2015.

Graduating class size also fell 8.8% between 2014 and 2015, which shored up the percentage of 2015 graduates obtaining jobs. Law schools, however, did not gain much ground in placing a higher percentage of their graduates. Smaller classes merely kept pace with a contracting job market.

I will have more details tomorrow, including an explanation for why the percentage declines in the top ten lines of the table are overstated. The news on those lines, which detail jobs requiring bar passage and those for which a JD is considered an advantage, is disheartening–but not quite as bad as the reported percentages suggest. The ABA changed its reporting methods between 2014 and 2015, so those comparisons match pineapples to prunes–a fruit salad you would never want to serve.




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