Monday, April 25, 2011

Only Half of Last Year's Law School Grads Are Full-Time Lawyers

Fewer than half of last year's law school graduates are employed full-time in law jobs. That is the estimate of law professor Paul Campos in The New Republic.

Campos made this calculation because law schools have been routinely lying about their graduates' employment rate. Almost all of them claimed 90% or higher were working in law jobs within a year. Lately they have been under pressure to produce more credible numbers, and have been revising their claims downwards. Still, Campos contends, they are fibbing quite a bit.

Truth is good. True numbers are better than false. Campos' main point is sound.

Still, a 50% legal employment rate might not be as bad as it sounds. There are quite a few things that law school graduates might fruitfully be doing right after law school. And many of those not employed in law right now will likely find their way into the profession as economic conditions improve.

One alternative that I am particularly interested in is how many are having children. I can't answer that question, and neither can Campos. Still, most law students are women, and most of them wait a bit after college before going to law school. So it is reasonable to expect that a significant fraction of those graduating from law school are in their prime fertility years - their late twenties or early thirties. Most probably put off having children while they were in school. So some of those who do not find full-time legal jobs right out of law school may be taking a temporary fertility break.

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