Fewer jobs in private practice for law school grads

Not since 1996 have so few law school graduates secured jobs in private practice, according to a report released by the National Association for Law Placement.

Of the almost 40,000 students who graduated from law programs last year, only 17,168 were able to land private-practice jobs, the report found.

A total of 9,829 graduates began clerking for judges, or found employment in government, the public interest sector or academia.

NALP’s executive director, James Leipold, called the entry-level market “remarkable flat” in the report, adding that many new graduates have to compete with lawyers already in the market for the few number of positions that are set aside for entry-level specific hires, and this already low number of jobs continues to shrink.

The association found that In 2007 there were a total of 37,123 such jobs, but just 33,469 last year.

However there is a bit of good news. Those who are able to land a job are being paid more for their work.

According to the report, the national median salary for 2015 graduates was $64,800, up from $63,000 in 2014. This is the largest year-to-year increase since 2008. The national mean for the Class of 2015 was $83,797, compared with $82,292 for the Class of 2014.

Advice on landing your first job

Maintain contact with your classmates: Without even knowing it you began networking the second you stepped foot into law school. The very people you ate with, studied with, and socialized with became a link to the professional world as soon as you graduated. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them to see if firms they are working for are hiring.

Attend bar association events: It is a good idea to become a regular at these events. There will be actual practicing lawyers in attendance making it the perfect place to network. It is important to embed yourself inside the legal community that you want to be working in.

Find a mentor: A mentor can be one of the most valuable resources for new attorneys. Identify someone with whom you’ve worked with during law school, or someone who’s work you admire. Don’t be afraid to approach the person and ask them if they would be interested in mentoring you. The worst they will say is that might be too busy. Then spend time with your mentor, cultivate your relationship, ask questions about their work as well as provide them with a reason to become invested in your success.

Stay in the know: Make sure you are always reading articles, blogs, newsletters and news feeds from different law firms so that you are up to date on their practices so if you do land an interview, you can impress them with your know-all about their day to day operations.