New NALP Employment Research on Legal Services Jobs Leads to More Questions

by Ashley Matthews

In a new NALP Bulletin article by PSJD’s own Steve Grumm and NALP Research Director Judith Collins, employment data shows a slight decrease in the amount of legal services jobs taken by the class of 2011. While the numbers are down from last year, they are still dramatically higher than the amount of legal services jobs reported a decade ago – which could mean that entry-level prospects for civil legal services are doing just fine.

But with widespread reports of funding cuts for legal aid, it may be hard to imagine such a thriving employment landscape for legal services organizations. How are the numbers of entry level jobs in legal services rising, while the funding continues to dwindle? Research points to the role law school funding has played in developing job opportunities for their graduates in the field of public interest law. The NALP Employment Report and Salary Survey showed that 44% of legal services jobs reported for the class of 2011 were law school funded.

Absent this funding, what could the landscape of entry-level legal services employment look like? The answer may be frightening, but it’s worth questioning. Funded by a law school, postgraduate legal aid opportunities are a great way to get your foot in the door with organizations that may not be able to afford new hires – but is this type of opportunity a gateway to permanent legal employment?

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