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Finding law jobs

Research your employment prospects

Accredited law schools are required to submit employment data to the ABA, which provides school-by-school reports accessible to the general public. Study them carefully and compare the data on a school-by-school basis. This will give you a sense of what kind of career outcomes graduates from each school might expect.

Don’t let information about the “average salary” for new lawyers mislead you. The median salary doesn’t tell the whole story, which is much more complex. Salaries for lawyers vary widely, depending on the type of practice and region. Few people actually earn anywhere near the $70,000 median. Instead, salaries for new lawyers are “bimodal” - they fall into two broad categories: the $160,000 earned by first-year associates at big law firms (about 20% of new lawyers), and the $40,000-to-$65,000 salary range for lawyers at smaller law firms and public sector jobs (the other 80%).

Post-graduate employment for law students has declined dramatically since 2008. However, recent employment outcomes for the Class of 2016 suggest an entry-level legal employment market that is improving, but only modestly. In 2016, the employment rate for new law school grads rose by almost one percentage point from 2015 (87.5% and 67.7% bar passage required). However, the graduating class also declined for the third consecutive year, which offset the falling number of available jobs. In other words, while there were fewer law school grads seeking jobs, there were also fewer jobs overall. Another trend in legal employment is that while the demand for lawyers is down, so is the salary. The median starting salary for all jobs taken by 2016 law school graduates is still almost $10,000 less than it was in 2008 (from $72,000 to $65,000), with only a slight increase from 2014-2016 (from 63,000 to 65,000). In recent years, bar passage rates have also declined creating a challenge for new graduates hoping to begin their legal practice.