Legal Forum
 Home Students  Legal Forum
CESL 2012 Chinese Graduate Employment Statistics
Last Modified:  2012-07-10 16:45:07
Fang Liufang

How many Chinese students find employment in the year they graduate? What job opportunities are available? CESL compiled employment statistics with the aim of answering these two questions.

Which students are looking for employment?

Before compiling statistics it is necessary to define the scope, and the scope needs to be related to the purpose of the statistics. To accurately represent statistics on graduate employment, students who are ineligible for employment or who have no intention of entering the employment market in the year of graduations should be excluded.

  • Students who will continue with their studies have no intention of looking for employment. Continuing education does not fall within the scope of “employment”, and thus this category of graduates is discounted.
    In June 2012, 47 CESL students graduated, this included 31 LLM students, 16 JM students and 2 doctoral students. The two students who had already decided to read for doctorates at the University of Maastricht and Peking University are omitted.
  • Students who were “sent” by their employer or who came from other “targeted quotas”, but who were still employed whilst studying at CESL as masters or doctoral students and who will return to the same employer, will not enter the labour market and are thus excluded from the statistics.
  • Students who were not part of the National Quota for Graduates Admissions or who did not take the National Graduate Admissions Examination, and students who are not eligible to receive a Graduation Certificate or who participated in a programme not recognised by the state, legally fall outside of the scope of “this year’s graduates”, and are thus excluded.
CESL has never accepted student from the last two categories to read for the LLM or JM of Chinese Law.

Of the 49 graduates, only 47 planned to find employment in 2012. This group included 17 men (36.2%) and 30 women (63.8%); 41 did not have a Beijing household registration (87.2%), (that is before reading for their bachelors’ degrees they were not resident in Beijing). Only 6 students were classified as Beijing residents (12.8%). The average age of master’s graduates was 26 and 29 for doctoral students.
Measuring Employment

For students to be classed as employed, prior to completing the procedures for leaving the university they must hold a legal document of employment, including:

  • "Trilateral Agreement”: contract signed between students, employers and the university, or an official contract of employment, before leaving CESL. The “trilateral agreement” is particularly important for students who want to transfer their household registration. Upon signing the contract the university can contact the educational authorities at the student’s original place of registration and report his or her employment plans. After the report is approved, CESL will issue an “Employment Certificate”. In other words, students must sign a trilateral contract to be eligible for the “Employment Certificate”, and student records and household registration can only be transferred with the “Employment Certificate”.
  • Many students also sign employment contracts directly with their employer. Since it is not possible to be both a student and an employee, employment contracts often have conditions whereby the start of the contract is delayed until after graduation.
  • Official letter of invitation from an employer. If the student is to be employed overseas, then a labour contract or a trilateral agreement is not used. Students will often receive a written letter of invitation and come to an agreement based on the terms laid out in the invitation.
  • Students are considered to be self-employed if they set up their own business, form a partnership, support themselves, or do not register their employment. Self-employment is based on students’ reports and does not need additional proof. No CESL students registered as self-employed.
CESL Graduate Employment

The employment rate for CESL students was calculated as the number of students who fulfilled the criteria for being employed, divided by the total number of this year’s graduates minus students who will go on for further studies.

44 / (49-2) = 93.6%

Number of students who will join the legal profession: The legal profession is normally defined as law firms, courts, procuratorates, private companies, government departments involved in the law or responsible for implementing the law, or teaching law at a university law department. According to this standard, 37 CESL graduates will join the legal profession (78.7%).

Looking Back

The following changes occurred in comparison to previous years:

CESL’s first doctoral student became a university lecturer.

The number of graduates who found employment at international law firms, multi-national corporations, financial organisations, or abroad increased significantly between 2010 and 2012, as shown in the following table.

International and Non-law graduate employment (2010 to 2012)

International Law Firms/ Accountants
Beijing is still the top choice for CESL students. This year 33 graduates (70.2%) will work in Beijing. One person will work in a directly administered city other than Beijing, and eight (17%) will work in provincial capitals. A trend that merits attention is the concentration of the legal profession in large cities.

Analysis and Predictions

In 2013, 88 students will graduate from CESL, this was 1.87 times higher than in 2012. The effect of the increase in law graduates on employment is unclear if as with the last three years the economy continues to develop and employment opportunities continue to rise.

Changes to the regulations on entry to the the legal profession will probably have an effect on employment. However, flexibility in the market will help to ease some of the side-effects. For example from 2010 restrictions on the number of permits for lawyers who are not Beijing residents were introduced by the Beijing Lawyers’ Association. Although this change had a great impact on graduates, the number of CESL students who joined law firms in Beijing increased this year.

The majority of CESL students join the legal profession and 90% of students passed the Bar Examination whilst they were studying. Thus the path to the legal profession was relatively smooth for CESL students.

There is also increased recognition of CESL graduates by law firms, courts, financial organisations, and large enterprises who have international business.

The ratio of male to female graduates was 1:1.76, however, there was no clear correlation with the employment rate. The English level of CESL’s female graduates is on average higher than normal law schools, which gives CESL female graduates certain advantages.

Currently it is rare for law school graduates to start their own businesses. The majority of opportunities come from law firms, judicial organs, administrative organs, and large companies. If large cities outside of Beijing could lift restrictions on graduates opening up law firms, (they could be partners in waiting or hold a partnership that had additional criteria attached), this would not only raise the number of positions available, but would also help to change the situation where the majority of law firms are concentrated in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.