More jobs for law grads, but still tight market

Law school graduates are still struggling to find jobs despite an improving job market, and increased hiring at the naiton’s largest firms. A recent study by The National Association for Law Placement shows that more jobs were available for the Class of 2012 than the year before. 

The increase was largely due to an increase in hiring among the nation’s largest law firms. Employers with 500 attorneys or more were responsible for 19.1 percent of jobs taken in law firms compared to only 16.2 percent in 2011. While the big firms increased hiring by 27 percent, the total number of students was still less than 8 percent of the graduating class. More than 46,000 students graduated in 2012 and only 3,600 landed big firm jobs. 

But, law school placement directors still expect graduates to face a weak job market this year. 

“I think it’s a very challenging job market for law students, and I think students coming into law school have to be ready to scramble and be scrappy, and really be committed to building their network and acquiring that legal experience while they are in law school,” said Marianne Deagle, Assistant Dean for Career Services at Loyola University Chicago School of La.

Deagle said this fall’s on-campus interviews will be similar to the last few years in terms of size. 

“[This fall’s OCI is] really essentially the same,” she said. “It’s got about the same number of employers — about 30 employers doing on campus and about 20 doing resume collects.” 

Deagle said the majority of students do not find employment through OCI. Many find jobs at mid-size or smaller firms. 

The study found that small firm positions also increased for the Class of 2012. Jobs in the smallest firms, those with two to 10 lawyers, grew to nearly 8,200 jobs available in 2012, compared to less than 7,600 in 2011. Although more positions were available for the Class of 2012 overall, the study found that the employment rate as a whole for law school graduates decreased to 84.7 percent, dropping from 85.6 percent the previous year. The reason was a 5.4 percent increase in the number of graduates. But future classes will be much smaller.