One other factor that has to be taken into account when evaluating employment statistics:
My law school, like many law schools with large part time/evening programs, had a significant number of people who graduated in December. The employment surveys for the December grads were collected in February, at the same time as the May grads. Most (if not all) of the December grads spent December, January, and February studying for the February bar as opposed to looking for a job. Their post grad employment data, however, gets counted with the previous academic year in which they graduated.
Considering that only two and a half months pass between graduation and data collection, this could significantly affect the statistics for the entire year's graduating class.
What is your point? Are you just arguing that it may not be as bad as law school transparency says? Okay, maybe it's not. But you know what else the employment statistics don't reflect? The number of attorneys who leave the law after two years and the number of attorneys who live paycheck to paycheck and the number of attorneys who hate their jobs.
If you look at the data, it's pretty harrowing. Enrollment in law schools has finally started to drop. While this is fantastic news, the legal picture is still brutal. The industry isn't really growing. It shed 2,400 jobs in january of 2013. http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/legal_industry_loses_2400_jobs_in_january
The BLS estimates that the legal industry will add about 7,000 new lawyer jobs per year over the next ten years. Unfortunately, we have been added about 53,000 newly licensed attorneys in 2009. 40 years ago, there were only 16,000 law grads per year. So even if we estimate that 80% still practice law, that means that retirements are only leading to about 12,800 open spots per year (if they are actually retiring, and if their work isn't just being absorbed by their firms).
It's reasonable to assume that we need less than 25,000 new lawyers each year until the boomer lawyers really start to retire. In the 2011-2012 cycle, there were 44,366 who enrolled at ABA ranked schools.
Look at this lawyer surplus analysis by state. The chart is interesting. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/the-lawyer-surplus-state-by-state/
Do you really think the ABA's employment estimate, that only 55% of ABA grads have full-time legal work is that far off?
This is an absolutely brutal time to go to a T3, but at least enrollments are dropping. Hopefully more lawyers will retire in the next decade. But computers and machines will probably take up the slack.