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Employment Status Definitions

Employment status definitions from the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

Employed – Bar Passage Required: A position in this category requires the graduate to pass a bar exam and to be licensed to practice law in one or more jurisdictions. The positions that have such a requirement are varied and include, for example, positions in law firms, business, or government. However, not all positions in law firms, business, or government require bar passage; for example, a paralegal position would not. Positions that require the graduate to pass a bar exam and be licensed after beginning employment in order to retain the position are included in this category. Judicial clerkships are also included in this category.

Employed – J.D. Advantage: A position in this category is one for which the employer sought an individual with a J.D., and perhaps even required a J.D., or for which the J.D. provided a demonstrable advantage in obtaining or performing the job, but which does not itself require bar passage or an active law license or involve practicing law. Examples of positions for which a J.D. is an advantage include a corporate contracts administrator, alternative dispute resolution specialist, government regulatory analyst, FBI agent, and accountant. Also included might be jobs in personnel or human resources, jobs with investment banks, jobs with consulting firms, jobs doing compliance work in business and industry, jobs in law firm professional development, and jobs in law school career services offices, admissions offices, or other law school administrative offices. Doctors or nurses who plan to work in a litigation, insurance, or risk management setting, or as expert witnesses, would fall into this category, as would journalists and teachers (in a higher education setting) of law and law related topics. It is an indicator that a position does not fall into this category if a J.D. is uncommon among persons holding such a position.

Employed – Professional Position: A position in this category is one that requires professional skills or training but for which a J.D. is neither required nor a demonstrable advantage. Examples of persons in this category include a math or science teacher, business manager, or performing arts specialist. Other examples include professions such as doctors, nurses, engineers, or architects, if a J.D. was not demonstrably advantageous in obtaining the position or in performing the duties of the position.

Employed – Non-Professional Position: A position in this category is one that does not require any special professional skills or training.

Short-term: A short-term position is one that has a definite term of less than one year. Thus, a clerkship that has a definite term of one year or more is not a shortterm position. It also includes a position that is of an indefinite length if that position is not reasonably expected to last for one year or more. 

A position that is envisioned by the graduate and the employer to extend for one year or more is not a short-term position even though it is conditioned on bar passage and licensure. Thus, a long-term position that is conditioned on passing the bar exam by a certain date does not become a short-term position because of the condition. 

Long-term: A long-term position is one that does not have a definite or indefinite term of less than one year. It may have a definite length of time as long as the time is one year or longer. It may also have an indefinite length as long as it is expected to last one year or more. The possibility that a short-term position may evolve into a long-term position does not make the position a long-term position.

Full-time: A full-time position is one in which the graduate works a minimum of 35 hours per week. A full-time position may be either short-term or long-term.

Part-time: A part-time position is one in which the graduate works less than 35 hours per week. A part-time position may be either short-term or long-term.