UPDATE: This entire chart may need to be redone because the ABA's data confusingly differs from the individual forms and its overall spreadsheet--funded positions were originally included in top-line figures. These figures have been changed. My apologies.
The American Bar Association released its comprehensive employment statistics for the Class of 2017, a few weeks ahead of last year's pace (a laudable improvement). Here are some top-line figures (excluding Puerto Rico's three law schools):
|Graduates||FTLT BPR||Placement||FTLT JDA|
|Class of 2012||45,751||25,503||55.7%||4,218|
|Class of 2013||46,112||25,787||55.9%||4,550|
|Class of 2014||43,195||25,348||58.7%||4,774|
|Class of 2015||40,205||23,895||59.4%||4,416|
|Class of 2016||36,654||22,874||62.4%||3,948|
|Class of 2017||34,428||23,078||67.0%||3,121|
The statistics reveal some fairly remarkable figures. Law schools have shed 12,000 graduates in four years. The result? A placement rate in unfunded full-time, long-term, bar passage-required positions has risen from about 56% to 67%.
Year over year, raw placement in those jobs improved slightly, too, with about 200 new placements in those jobs. Some improvement in bar passage rates (whether better test-takers or lower cut scores) surely can't hurt.
Significantly, placement in J.D.-advantage jobs has dropped fairly sharply in the last couple of years. For years, the versatility and flexibility of J.D. has been a common point of defense among law schools, not without some controversy. But those positions--which not only highlight the versatility of the J.D., but aren't contingent on passing the bar--have been declining, too. That said, if schools are able to place more graduates in bar passage-required positions, all the better for them.
I've continued to wonder whether the ABA's decision to change the reporting deadlines from 9 to 10 months after graduation has improved the reporting situation for schools--but, we lack any data about the impact of such changes.
In short, we have some good news for law schools. Placement has topped 2/3 in bar passage required jobs, and those positions have seen a modest improvement. I'll dig into some more industry-specific figures in the near future.