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The good news is that nearly 3 percent more law graduates got jobs in 2017 than the previous year.
The bad news is that's because there were fewer graduates last year. With declining enrollments in recent years, the graduating class for 2017 shrunk by about 6 percent.
But maybe the bad news is not so bad, after all. When you do the math, fewer sharks in the water means more fish for everybody else.
Figures Don't Lie
In the report by the American Bar Association, the jobs for new grads increased to 75.3 percent in 2017. That's up from 72.6 percent in 2016, and includes "bar passage required" or "J.D. advantage" jobs.
Although the class size decreased at the same time, the bottom line is there is more to go around when there is less competition. Plus, the legal job market is changing in positive ways for law graduates.
Compliance work, for example, has become a "goldmine for law jobs." Companies and government agencies need compliance officers to make sure they are following policies and regulations.
Mark Weber, an assistant dean of career services at Harvard Law School, says new lawyers make more money, specialize earlier, and benefit from emerging technologies. And while they face more education debt and uncertainty, they are "using their degrees in more ways than ever before."
But Lawyers Figure
On the other hand, the LawProf Blog explains, the ABA report shows a net decrease of about 2.5 percent in jobs for new law graduates. In raw numbers, that's 630 fewer jobs than in 2016.
The report is based on law schools and new grads by year. It separates numbers for students who graduated in previous years but passed the bar sometime later.
On that front, the ABA recently announced in a separate report that nearly nine of ten law graduates in 2015 passed it within two years of graduation.