Employment Rates for Law School Grads Inch Up: Business of Law

Just one day after newly minted law school graduates finished this year’s bar exam, the National Association of Law Placement said that 87 percent of last year’s graduates have found jobs, a slight increase from the rate for those finishing law school in 2013.

Despite the rosy-sounding rate, the class of 2014, smaller than the class preceding it, found fewer jobs in total than the year before. Also, the data were collected through March 15; previously the cutoff was Feb. 15, meaning the graduates had more time to find jobs.

According to NALP, while the overall number of jobs was 3 percent less than for 2013 graduates, the class itself was 6 percent smaller, which caused the uptick in the employment rate.

James Leipold, the executive director of the organization, said in a statement that “it is clear that the shrinking class size did indeed have a positive impact on the overall employment rate, and that is a dynamic that will likely continue to be in play for the next three graduating classes, each of which is projected to continue to come down in size in fairly dramatic steps.”

Of the 2014 graduates finding jobs, 50.9 percent were in private practice, slightly lower than the 51.1 percent rate for 2013 graduates. The nadir for law firm jobs, not surprisingly, was for those graduating in 2011, the year when the effects of the recession as well as the deferrals of previous classes hurt hiring. For those graduating in 2011, only 46 percent landed jobs in law firms. By comparison, in 2009, 56 percent of graduates got positions in firms.

Additionally, the number of jobs in firms with more than 500 lawyers was “essentially flat after two years of growth.”

Jobs in the smallest firms -- two to 10 lawyers -- accounted for 41 percent of law firm jobs, which was a slight drop from 2013.

Leipold said in the statement that NALP expects “that the overall employment rate for the Classes of 2015, 2016, and 2017 will continue to improve.”

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In the News

Ex-Wilson Sonsini Worker Resumed Inside Trades, Gets Prison

A former Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC employee was sentenced to prison for resuming his insider trades in the face of a what a judge called a “flashing stop sign” -- the arrest of a co-worker in a separate scheme.

Dimitry Braverman, 42, a former computer-systems engineer at the Silicon Valley law firm, admitted last year that he pocketed almost $305,000 by using firm records to profit on companies that might be involved in acquisitions. Braverman resumed his illicit trades after being temporarily scared off by the 2011 arrest of Wilson Sonsini lawyer Matthew Kluger on unrelated insider-trading charges.

The sentence is less than the record 12 years Kluger got in 2012 but more stringent than the home detention Braverman requested. Prosecutors asked for a sentence of as long as three years and one month behind bars.

Wilson Sonsini, based in Palo Alto, California, has handled numerous merger deals for tech industry clients including Google Inc. in its $3.2 billion acquisition of DoubleClick Inc. Braverman’s job gave him access to attorney billing records and time sheets created when the firm opened new accounts or checked for conflicts of interest, according to prosecutors.

The case is U.S. v. Braverman, 14-cr-00748, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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U.S. Calls Insider-Trading Ruling ‘Harmful’ in Review Bid

Just when Wall Street thought it was safer to trade on illicit tips, the U.S. government is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse what it calls a harmful and unprecedented ruling.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli on Thursday said a federal appeals court decision will “reward dishonest analysts” at the expense of honest ones, in asking the Supreme Court to review the New York-based appeals court’s ruling.

The appeals court ruled that prosecutors must prove that a person who traded on an illegal tip knew that the source received a personal benefit for violating a duty to keep it secret. And the benefit has to be something more than just friendship, the court said.

“The effect of the new rule will be to hurt market participants, disadvantage scrupulous market analysts, and impair the government’s ability to protect the fairness and integrity of the securities markets,” the U.S. said in a filing Thursday.

Four of the nine Supreme Court justices must vote to hear the case before it can be considered. The court won’t be in session until October.

The New York appeals court decision increased the burden on prosecutors and loosened some of the restrictions on insiders passing confidential information to friends.

Betsy Feuerstein, a Bharara spokeswoman, declined to comment on Verrilli’s decision to seek the Supreme Court review.

The New York appeals court, which has jurisdiction over Wall Street, issues more securities-law decisions than other courts. Its rulings are often looked to for guidance by courts throughout the U.S. in insider-trading cases.

The case is U.S. v. Newman, 13-1837, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).

NFL Wins Home-Field Advantage in Tom Brady Suspension Suit

A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed by the National Football League Players Association seeking to overturn Tom Brady’s four-game suspension must be heard in New York rather than Minnesota, where the players union had sued.

The NFL’s management council was the first to sue, filing a complaint July 28 in Manhattan, where the league is based, in a bid to affirm the suspension. The union sued a day later in Minnesota, seeking to overturn it in a jurisdiction where the union has received favorable rulings in other cases.

“This court, however, perceives no reason for this action to proceed in Minnesota,” U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle, who is based in Minnesota, ruled Thursday. The “parties overlap in the two cases and the issues are mere flip-sides of the same coin.”

Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer for the union and a partner at Winston & Strawn LLP, didn’t immediately return a call for comment on the ruling.

The litigation stems from the suspension of the New England Patriots quarterback after the National Football League concluded he was probably at least generally aware that two team staffers deflated game balls below the minimum air pressure before last season’s conference championship game.

The case is National Football League Players Association v. National Football League, 0:15-cv-03168, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota (Minneapolis).