The ABA released the class of 2014’s employment information last week, and there are enough differences to warrant an update to this post, namely that I’d forgotten that the ABA accredited Lincoln Memorial University late last fall. Most of the figures remain the same, but to keep Web traffic to one post, I’m retaining the original “leaked” version at the bottom but striking it out. I’ve also changed the title.
We have 43,195 people who graduated from an ABA-accredited law school outside of Puerto Rico between September 1, 2013, and August 31, 2014. The employment information is good as of March 15, 2015. Readers likely know that the ABA now collects data as of ten months from the typical graduation date rather than nine. I don’t think there’s too much of an impact by the change except to applicants this year who might have wanted to rely on the data.
The tables are below the fold to conserve blog space.
Here’s the employment status distribution.
The unemployment rate has fallen by quite a bit this year, and I hypothesize it’s due to fewer graduates. I’ll test that another time.
Here’s the employment status distribution:
|STATUS (EXCL. P.R.)||2010||2011||2012||2013||2014|
Now for the important info: 58.7 percent of graduates held full-time jobs requiring bar passage, up from 55.9 percent for the class of 2013. However—and this is very important—the actual number of graduates in such jobs fell to 25,344 from 25,762 last year, about a 1.6 percent decline. As of now, I suspect that’s an insignificant variance, and I don’t think it portends any shifts. Although, it does show that percentages and absolutes are not the same thing. Now that we have a declining number of graduates, we need to focus more on what’s important to avoid sloppy errors.
And now, what you crave: the comparison table for each law school, sorted by their 2014 percentage of graduates in full-time bar-passage required jobs less school-funded positions:
|PERCENT GRADUATES EMPLOYED FULL-TIME/LONG-TERM IN BAR-PASSAGE-REQUIRED JOBS (EXCL. LAW-SCHOOL-FUNDED JOBS)|
|6.||New York University||86.2%||86.0%||-0.2%|
|63.||Penn State (Dickinson)||47.0%||65.3%||18.3%|
|71.||Missouri (Kansas City)||48.4%||64.3%||15.9%|
|78.||Washington and Lee||57.3%||63.8%||6.5%|
|79.||William and Mary||56.7%||63.7%||7.0%|
|99.||Arkansas (Little Rock)||51.0%||59.2%||8.2%|
|116.||John Marshall (Chicago)||51.8%||56.1%||4.3%|
|125.||Case Western Reserve||59.9%||54.2%||-5.7%|
|132.||Lewis and Clark||51.6%||52.6%||1.0%|
|138.||Texas A&M [Wesleyan]||43.8%||52.2%||8.4%|
|148.||St. Thomas (MN)||44.9%||49.0%||4.1%|
|159.||St. Thomas (FL)||47.8%||47.2%||-0.6%|
|173.||Atlanta’s John Marshall||39.7%||43.7%||4.0%|
|174.||New York Law School||44.5%||43.4%||-1.1%|
|178.||North Carolina Central||22.5%||40.8%||18.3%|
|180.||Arizona Summit [Phoenix]||44.1%||39.9%||-4.2%|
|184.||Western New England||36.8%||37.8%||1.0%|
|195.||Massachusetts — Dartmouth||25.2%||30.9%||5.7%|
|199.||District of Columbia||25.0%||26.2%||1.2%|
|TOTAL (EXCL. P.R.)||55.9%||58.7%||2.8%|
|10TH PERCENTILE (EXCL. P.R.)||36.5%||39.4%||2.9%|
|25TH PERCENTILE (EXCL. P.R.)||47.0%||48.7%||1.7%|
|MEDIAN (EXCL. P.R.)||57.3%||59.0%||1.7%|
|75TH PERCENTILE (EXCL. P.R.)||65.3%||67.2%||1.9%|
|90TH PERCENTILE (EXCL. P.R.)||74.4%||74.2%||-0.2%|
|MEAN (EXCL. P.R.)||55.6%||58.1%||2.5%|
Now we’re done.
Yes folks, like a boy checking the mailbox for the cereal-box mail-order toy, I’ve been peeking daily at the ABA’s employment summary Web page. On Friday morning, the class of 2014 data appeared, and I thought, “Crap! It’s up already and I have to get to work.” Yet when I returned Friday afternoon, I found it was gone. …But not before I downloaded the spreadsheet and added Belmont’s data from its Web site since they were missing (pdf). I’ve run the numbers, so I just have to leak the results. I’m sorry ABA data people for stealing your thunder; I cherish your work, but this was a golden opportunity. Note: I’m sure there will be substantial revisions in the coming days and weeks, so the following calculations should be treated as preliminary but reasonably accurate. We have 43,115 people who graduated from an ABA-accredited law school outside of Puerto Rico between September 1, 2013, and August 31, 2014. The employment information is good as of March 15, 2015. Readers likely know that the ABA now collects data as of ten months from the typical graduation date rather than nine. I don’t think there’s too much of an impact by the change except to applicants this year who might have wanted to rely on the data. The tables are below the fold to conserve blog space. ********** Here’s the employment status distribution. The unemployment rate has fallen by quite a bit this year, and I hypothesize it’s due to fewer graduates. I’ll test that another time. Here’s the employment status distribution: Now for the important info: 58.7 percent of graduates held full-time jobs requiring bar passage, up from 55.9 percent for the class of 2013. However—and this is very important—the actual number of graduates in such jobs fell to 25,292 from 25,762 last year, about a 1.8 percent decline. As of now, I suspect that’s an insignificant variance, and I don’t think it portends any shifts. Although, it does show that percentages and absolutes are not the same thing. Now that we have a declining number of graduates, we need to focus more on what’s important to avoid sloppy errors. And now, what you crave: the comparison table for each law school, sorted by their 2014 percentage of graduates in full-time bar-passage required jobs less school-funded positions: ***** That’s all for today. Peace.
Until there is data on post-big law outcomes, these statistics tell a limited story – about the early careers of new grads. They don’t even touch on how little a value one of the degrees at the top of the list above has when a job says bye-bye to a lawyer on short notice.
MESSAGE: The experienced job market stinks. Your double Harvard cum laude, federal clerkship, V10 law firm guys and gals have no employment opportunities once they hit age 45 or 50 and they lose a job. You can imagine that a normal degree is worthless as well.
You are buying a few years of work at a very high price, but absolutely no assurance of a career. To the contrary, you are likely buying years of unemployment and a futile job search with the degrees at the very top of your list.
It is supply and demand, guys and gals.
Do the math, lemmings, The 2015 data above shows 28,000 first year lawyer jobs. There are not a million lawyer jobs overall, (for a 40 year career), but rather only about 760,000 jobs as per BLS. Unless women are magically saying bye bye for life to that quarter million dollar law degree, at least half lawyers with starting jobs don’t have continuing career-long jobs. It is a few year gig in law for many who get jobs starting out. Otherwise there would be more than a million lawyer jobs.
Yes, we hear from Cooley that more than a million people call themselves lawyers. The household survey of BLS tells us how many people have a household member telling the Census Bureau that a person is working as a lawyer. However, adding up the number of people actually working as lawyers in the US according to BLS, you only get 760,000 lawyer jobs. Some of those come without salaries – BLS does not ask the self-employed how much they earn.
Up or out, jobs with experience limits, clerkships, short-term government jobs all contribute to the job squeeze in law and to the death of decent jobs for lawyers over age 45. Once you get a job, there is overcapacity in law firms. That means not enough work to do, with risk of termination.
Plan for long periods of unemployment and futile job searches, That is what most people are buying with a law degree.
I couldn’t agree more. As a 22 year veteran of this business, I know what I observe. At least half of my contemporaries are unemployed, and my contemporaries are the people who started in Biglaw. Thus, even those who were the apparent or alleged “successes” early on in the tournament have dismal long term career prospects. Data to demonstrate this reality is scarce, but I know what I see. The experienced job market stinks, and employment statistics for a given law school class get worse and worse longitudinally over time.
All of the numbers appear to be a year out of date. The correct numbers for California schools can be found at http://excessofdemocracy.com/blog/2015/4/visualizing-legal-employment-outcomes-in-california-in-2014. It may be that the reason the ABA pulled the spreadsheet is that it was posted in error.
I’m unsure why the ABA pulled the spreadsheet, but Derek Muller’s post studies full-time, long-term, bar-passage-required and J.D.-advantaged jobs, and both including and excluding funded-positions. Replicating his experiment, I get identical results except Stanford has four fewer graduates in the “raw” column.
[Edit: sorry, six fewer at Stanford. The point is, I’m not measuring the same thing as Muller, hence the different results.]
This is the BLS Legal Services Sector numbers, not seasonally adjusted for the 10 month period:
May 2014 1,131,700
March 2015 1,116,100 -15,600
Yet, law schools claim they placed 27,939 new entrants during the same period of time. Overwhelmingly not solos, so they should be showing up in the BLS data, correct?
Same story each and every year since 2010 – BLS data for the Sector entirely flat, and law schools claiming they placed tens of thousands of new entrants each year.
Can you point me to some source showing that employed lawyers counted in the BLS data are leaving the profession such that the Sector could remain flat overall while absorbing new entrants?
I believe judicial clerks are bar-passage-required jobs, which aren’t counted as lawyers. More importantly, you’re hunch may be correct that there is large turnover in the legal profession. The source is the BLS’s preliminary calculation of the occupational
replacementtransfer rate for lawyers. It’s 25.5% over a decade. I wrote about it here.
If you’re force-feeding a goose to make some nice foie gras, and the goose gets no fatter, a leaky anus is involved. So, the goose has chronic diarrhea. The owners say they fed the goose 100,000+ grams of food over the last half decade, but the goose got no fatter. It’s a mystery. Blame it on the diarrhea, but no one has ever confirmed the existence of that pile of shit.
Data you are looking for is here in the third link: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_separations.htm
In these proposed projections, BLS treats everyone who is unemployed for three months or more as having left the profession, which is a poor assumption where someone spends the time and money a law degree costs. The right period might be two years.
Aren’t the numbers you note for the legal sector as a whole, from the monthly jobs report? If so, only about a third of these jobs are lawyer jobs. This includes law firms in the establishment survey.
The 25.5% figure measures people who leave one occupation and enter another, so it does not “treat everyone who is unemployed for three months as having left the profession.” These workers have new jobs in different occupations.
The labor force exit rate is people who leave the labor force for at least four consecutive months. For lawyers under the proposed projections, that’s 17.1%.
This can all be found in the BLS’s FAQ on the proposed projections.
However, you are right that Wwwhhhhaaatttt???? was referring to the legal sector. I misread and thought it was lawyers from the Current Population Survey.
The 42% number of people projected to leave the legal profession over the next 10 years in the proposal includes everyone who leaves for no job as well as those leaving for other jobs. Three months out of work, either way, is a terrible measuring stick for who is leaving the legal profession and who is staying. BLS wants to have the same rule, such as three months out of work, for all professions, but it does not work that way in practice.
Guest, just to clarify, I’m talking about the transfer rate (25.5%), not the total replacement rate (42%), which is what you’re referring to.
Also, I don’t know where you’re getting the three months number from because the BLS’s methodology page (which I meant to link to before) clearly says it uses four months for both transfers and labor force exits.
The only point I’d add is that the BLS isn’t clear as to whether it distinguishes between unemployment (as in actively looking for work) and leaving the labor force entirely. I suspect it’s the latter, and if that’s the case, I doubt the BLS’s methodology will pick up many unemployed lawyers and count them as permanent labor force leavers.
There are definitely retirements built into the numbers. However, a law school class that graduated 40 years ago may have had 23,000 members at graduation. These people may have retired from law in many different periods, and some are still working.
You have more job entrants from the class of 2014 than members of the class that graduated 40 years ago, probably by about 5,000 people.
The built in attrition in these numbers is because there are many more junior level jobs than experienced jobs in law. Many, in fact, most, people are not going to be able to work a full career as lawyers based on the overall numbers of jobs available in law. It is called being fired, and not being able to find another job in law, or at least a permanent job in law.
Of course, we have no idea of how many of these 760,000 jobs are temporary because BLS does not ask.
So you have posted phony data?
I think the Seto/Excess of Democracy data is Bar Required plus JD Advantaged.
4.1% unemployed and seeking work is rather low, isn’t it? We know that the ratio of grads to openings is still high ( 2:1? 3:2?), so this suspicious.
Barry, the 4.1% is “Employed – Professional Position,” not “Unemployed – Seeking,” which is 9.5%.
As to the grads-to-openings ratio, the openings are always net of some number of replacements under the current BLS methodology. That means it nets out a lot of turnover. It’s a good figure to use because it tracks a loose measure of “sustainable jobs.” Many grads who are in FT/LT bar-passage-required jobs 10 months after graduation will not be working as lawyers ten years from now.
Whatever, the unemployment rate relates to the number of people trying to work in the legal profession and unable to. No way, in a any rational measure do you get anything like 3% or 4% unemployment. It is more like 40% unemployment when you compare licensed lawyers trying to work full-time as lawyers to the number of jobs for lawyers.
The methodology for calculating unemployment BLS uses for carpenters and retail clerks does not work for a professional occupation like law. The sooner BLS stops applying a one-size-fits-all approach, the sooner we get more accurate unemployment numbers for lawyers.
The real unemployment numbers are going to make people think long and hard about going to law school.
Yes. The occupational unemployment measures are problematic. I bet that’s why the BLS doesn’t publish them. Number one on the list is usually actors, and it’s like, duh, they’re always hustling for work. It’s a poor statistic overall.