Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Legal Job Market Turning a Corner?

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Has the legal job market finally turned around?  Almost.  According to the recently released National Association for Law Placement (NALP) study, the 2013 law graduates found it much easier to find employment within nine months of graduating than the last few graduating classes.  Specifically, 20.6% found a job with a firm employing 500 or more attorneys (aka Biglaw firm), which was 4.4% higher than those in 2011.  Even the National Jurist has found a certain group of law schools who have drastically improved their employment statistics from 2011 to 2013.
Although these statistics are encouraging, the NALP found a drop in overall law school grad employment; the lowest since the recession hit.  Their study showed the employment rate of the class of the 2013 fell a minimal .2% in 2013 to 84.5%; down from 84.7% in 2012.  This rate was still far from the 91.9% peak in 2007.  The drop in employment rate in 2013 was attributed to a historically large graduating class.
While the employment numbers saw a slight decline, the average salary saw a nice increase.  The NALP reported the median salary for 2013 grads was $95,000, which was $5,000 more than the class of 2012; likely due to the bump in Biglaw employment. 
So the numbers aren’t showing a huge change, and maybe if the graduating class were a normal size, the employment rate would have remained the same, but at least some indicators are pointing toward a recovery.  How can you take advantage of the upswing?  Look for in-demand practice areas.  Robert Half Legal expects litigation to generate the largest amount of jobs in the future as well as commercial litigation, contract management, and patent filing.  What will you need?  Experience.  Since the recession, employers are requiring 3-7 years of experience instead of the 1 to 2 during the pre-recession days.  Look for as many experience-building and networking opportunities as you can to help give you a competitive edge.

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