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Data released Thursday are likely to add to scrutiny of law schools and the question of whether applicants are being admitted who are unlikely to find career advancement worth the cost. The overall employment rate for those who graduated law school in 2011 is 85.6 percent, the lowest since 1994, according to a report issued Thursday by NALP: The Association for Legal Career Professionals. But that figure, association officials noted, doesn't reflect just how bad the job market is. Only 65.4 percent of new law grads are employed in jobs for which bar passage is required. That figure is down 9 percentage points since 2008 -- and is consistent with the reports of many law graduates that they are landing jobs for which they didn't need to go to law school (many times taking out loans to do so).

James Leipold, executive director of NALP, wrote in the report that "for members of the Class of 2011, caught as they were in the worst of the recession, entering law school in the fall of 2008 just as Lehman Brothers collapsed ... the entry-level job market can only be described as brutal. When this class took their LSATs and applied for law school there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing, and yet by the time they graduated they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal employment market in more than 30 years."