Enough conversation, let’s break out the charts and graphs.
First, a few essential notes:
1) Law graduate data from 2001-2013 is from the ABA
2) Law graduate data from 2014-2018 is based on the estimates presented in Post #2 (here)
3) Employment data from 2001-2013 is based on NALP data
4) Employment data from 2012-2018 excludes school funded positions (insufficient data available for 2001-2011)
5) Employment data from 2001-2018 only includes JD required and JD advantage positions
6) Employment data from 2001-2006 includes part-time and short-term employment as NALP reports did not separate employment by permanency
7) Employment data from 2007-2018 only includes full-time, long-term positions
8) Employment data from 2014-2018 takes 2013 data as a base:
- Charts #1 and #2 assume zero growth for JD required positions
- Chart #3 assumes there will be a 16% increase in JD required positions from 2014 to 2018; this reflects 3% annual employment growth
- Chart #4 assumes there will be a 16% decrease in JD required positions from 2014 to 2018; this reflects 3.5% annual employment decline
- In all four charts, due to the difficulty in estimating JD Advantage employment, it is assumed JD Advantage employment stays flat
- Chart #2 only counts JD Advantage positions to be worth half those of JD Required positions
9) These are just four scenarios. I could generate thirty of these if you'd like, but they'd all look pretty similar (and this posting would require a lot of scrolling). Except for Graph #4, which presents a scenario where the job market declines by the same proportion as it did during the worst economic downturn since the 1930's, they all show the "gap" between supply and demand mostly disappearing by 2017-2018. In fact, if you pull through the data a hundred different (reasonable) ways, you'll find the same conclusion almost every time - the job market for law grads looks very favorable by the time this year's entering class graduates in 2017. I'll have more on this in post #4.
10) Before commenting that I've included school funded or part-time or short-term positions, please re-read rules 1-9.
Now on to the charts!
Graph #1 – Jobs for Law Grads from 2001 to 2018
(zero growth chart)
Graph #2 – Jobs for Law Grads from 2001 to 2018 Discounting JD Advantage at 50%
(JD Advantage at 50%)
(zero growth chart)
Graphs #3 and #4 predict what will happen if the employment situation improves or declines during the next five years. Between 2001 and 2013, the largest five year increase for long-term, full-time bar pass required employment was 14% from 2002-2006. The largest five year decrease was 17% from 2007-2011. By using a 3% annual growth rate in Chart #3, the chart shows the employment data if the job market nearly matches its best performance in the past dozen years. By using a 3.5% annual negative growth rate in Chart#4, the chart shows the employment data if the job market nearly matches its worst performance in the past dozen years.
Graph #3 – Jobs for Law Grads from 2001 to 2018
(assumes 3% annual growth for bar pass required jobs from 2013-2018)
Graph #4 – Jobs for Law Grads from 2001 to 2018
(assumes 3.5% annual decline for bar pass required jobs from 2013-2018)
Many commenters have made the not unreasonable argument that if I was wrong about future employment in 2008-2009, then why should I be believed now.
My response is twofold. First, in 2008 I was a junior admissions person still learning about all the different resources available. I didn't know a NALP from a LSAC, let alone have an understanding of the underlying data related to employment outcomes. Second, in the pre-transparency era there was not nearly as much information available as there is today. Compiling the data for this project reminded me of this, as information on part-time/full-time employment, funded employment and other categories were not always available. The pre-2011 data that was available was not presented in easily sortable files. It took me many hours to go through individual employment reports to compile the data that comprises the charts above. Simply put, I wasn't as informed as I am now, and the relevant data was not nearly as available as today.
So, while it's a fair argument to make, I think consideration should be given to the fact that we've all come a long way in attaining a better understanding of the legal employment market.