CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: May 6, 1999
1999 shaping up to be a good year for law school graduates
By most indicators, 1999 looks like it will be a great year to be a law school
graduate. And, according to the University of Iowa College of Law placement
office, in 1998, 220 law firms conducted on-campus interviews, the highest
number in the last six years.
The on-campus interview numbers are not expected to
decline, says Karen Klouda, director of career services at the College of
The National Association of Law Placement, an organization
that compiles comprehensive data about law firm hiring, reported late last
year that the job market, while "exceptionally good for students, is
exceptionally challenging for employers. It "is exactly like it used
to be just before the national recession that staggered the legal community
and suspended legal hiring," in 1990.
"There are certainly positive indicators that
show the employment opportunities for law graduates rarely have been better,
says Paula Patton, NALP executive director. "But it would be hard to
project three to five years down the road," Patton says.
"What makes this a good year is the vitality
and vigor of the market economy. Its highs have a trickle-down effect and
law firms are growing, and looking for new talent," Patton says.
Patton says the strong economy is driving some firms
to merge with others and to expand. NALP reported in November that some firms
are growing at rates up to 52 percent per year.
Although there are several months before June, August
and December graduates get their diplomas, the booming economy and increased
campus recruitment visits indicate the immediate job outlook for the Class
of 1999 is favorable, Klouda says.
The number of firms that are signed up to interview
law students in the fall exceed the number registered last year at this time.
"The 1999 graduates have done well in the job market," Klouda says.
Jason Sawyer, who will earn a law degree from the
UI in May, accepted a job with a mid-sized Cedar Rapids firm last year. Sawyer,
who ranks among the top one-third of the 178 May 1999 graduation applicants,
said he thinks his chances of succeeding and making partner at a smaller firm
are greater than at a larger firm, which tends to pay a higher starting salary.
Annually, the placement office conducts an employment
survey of that years graduates. The survey shows a sizable number of
UI law graduates have chosen to remain in the state. Nearly 60 percent of
the recent graduates are employed in the Midwest, with 39 percent opting to
practice in Iowa. The average in-state starting salary is $33,814; the average
out-of-state salary is $59,586.
Last year the college
graduated 215 students; 213 responded to the survey. The offices jobs
report for the Class of 1998 shows that 99 percent of the respondents who
desired employment are employed. The majority of them, 175, reported full-time
employment in a law-related field.
The current jobs forecast is a turnaround from the
abysmal early 1990s economy that saw a large number of attorney layoffs, many
that were attributed to a decrease in the number of mid-level associate attorneys
employed by firms. NALP reported that shortage is now "fueling a lateral
market that has out-paced inflation by as much as 16 percent.
"In addition, there have been fewer law school
applicants, which has predicated a reduction in law school class size."
The Class of 1999 will be the smallest graduating class of juris doctorate
recipients since 1998, NALP reports. "Thus the recruitment and retention
issues faced by firms are unlikely to become easier to resolve in the future
- - not withstanding another recession."
The National Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports
that competition for jobs will increase and continue until 2006. The bureau
forecasts attorneys with expertise in intellectual and property rights law
and corporate law will continue to be highly sought after.
What firms are most looking for, Klouda says, are
talented future lawyers with maturity and strong work ethics.