Jobs for New Law Graduates — Trends from 1994-2004

NALP Bulletin, July 2005 

According to the ABA, over the past 11 years, the enrollment of both women and minorities in law school has increased fairly steadily, with the enrollment of women rising from 43% to 49%, and minority enrollment increasing from about 15% to about 20%. Most recently, while the overall graduating classes have been nearly evenly split between men and women, white men have outnumbered white women, but minority women have outnumbered minority men.

NALP’s employment data for the classes of 1994-2004 reflect these changing demographics; however, as the table on the opposite page shows, in some job categories women and minorities continue to be significantly under-represented, while in others women and minorities are over-represented.

  • In firms of 2-10 lawyers, the proportion of jobs obtained by white men has declined (from 55% to 46%), while the proportion of jobs taken by minorities, particularly minority women, has increased. Nonetheless, relative to their numbers among employed graduates, white men continue to obtain a disproportionate share of these jobs, while minorities obtain a smaller share.

  • In contrast, the share of jobs in large firms obtained by minority women has increased in most years since 1994; the share obtained by minority men has declined somewhat in recent years. The share of jobs taken by white men has decreased from about 49% in 1994 to 42% in the past two years.

  • Prosecutorial positions at all levels of government have consistently been a good source of employment for minorities, particularly minority women, and, to a lesser extent and not as consistently, white women.

  • Jobs in the military present a unique demographic profile. In 1994, two-thirds of these jobs were obtained by white men. After dropping to about 57% in 1997 and 1998, this figure has returned to over 60% in all of the past six years except 2002. Thus, white men continue to be over-represented among graduates obtaining these jobs. (It is worth noting that in 1991 and 1992, not shown because of space limitations, the representation of white men was even higher C over 70%.) This is true for minority men as well, although fluctuations are evident. Conversely, despite a modest gain overall, women, particularly white women, remain under-represented among those obtaining jobs in the military.

  • The representation of white women among federal judicial clerks generally has been slightly more than proportional, whereas the opposite is true of minority women in most years. Minority men have generally been under-represented.

  • The percentage of state judicial clerkships obtained by women has consistently exceeded their representation among employed graduates as a whole, whereas white men have been under-represented. Minority men are also under-represented; the presence of minority women, however, mirrors that among employed graduates as a whole.

Demographic Profile of Selected Job Types — 1994-2004

(percent of jobs obtained by each demographic group)


GRADUATING CLASS

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

All Jobs:

White men

50.6

49.9

48.6

47.8

47.2

47.0

45.3

44.5

43.9

42.9

42.5

White women

35.1

34.1

35.0

34.5

35.0

35.2

35.6

36.2

37.2

37.2

37.8

Minority men*

6.8

7.7

7.8

8.5

8.4

8.3

8.8

8.3

7.9

8.4

8.2

Minority women*

7.5

8.3

8.6

9.2

9.5

9.5

10.3

11.0

11.1

11.5

11.5

# of Jobs Taken**

25,006

26,455

27,887

28,657

30,194

30,261

29,691

29,298

28,996

29,729

30,035

Law Firms of 2 - 10 Lawyers:

White men

55.3

55.3

53.8

53.0

51.7

51.5

51.1

48.4

46.7

46.2

45.9

White women

35.2

33.8

34.8

34.0

34.8

35.7

35.0

36.1

37.9

37.4

38.0

Minority men*

5.0

5.6

5.8

6.5

6.9

6.4

6.6

6.8

6.5

6.9

7.0

Minority women*

4.5

5.3

5.5

6.5

6.6

6.4

7.3

8.7

8.9

9.5

9.1

# of Jobs Taken**

5,222

5,394

5,405

5,204

5,132

4,790

4,581

4,644

4,985

5,588

5,552

Law Firms of More Than 100 Lawyers:

White men

49.3

49.5

46.3

45.6

46.9

46.2

44.5

44.4

43.6

42.1

42.0

White women

33.9

32.2

34.7

35.0

34.9

34.8

35.4

35.4

37.1

37.3

37.8

Minority men*

8.6

9.2

9.3

9.6

9.4

8.5

9.6

9.1

8.1

8.4

7.9

Minority women*

8.2

9.1

9.7

9.8

8.9

10.5

10.5

11.1

11.3

12.2

12.4

# of Jobs Taken**

3,105

3,300

3,731

4,243

5,352

5,968

6,084

6,604

6,401

5,753

5,620

Prosecutors:

White men

42.4

42.7

44.7

43.7

43.4

42.7

40.4

39.7

42.5

41.9

40.3

White women

36.2

35.0

35.6

36.4

36.7

37.7

38.0

38.3

35.7

37.3

38.4

Minority men*

10.1

11.6

8.6

8.3

9.1

8.5

9.7

9.5

8.9

8.9

9.5

Minority women*

11.4

10.8

11.1

11.6

10.9

11.9

11.9

12.5

12.9

11.9

11.8

# of Jobs Taken**

1,100

1,244

1,284

1,488

1,467

1,485

1,485

1,478

1,319

1,330

1,343

Jobs in Military:

White men

66.0

60.2

61.1

57.3

57.9

65.1

61.6

63.7

56.4

60.9

61.9

White women

20.6

23.1

23.9

21.0

23.7

19.4

19.3

21.7

24.7

20.2

21.9

Minority men*

9.8

9.4

10.3

14.2

11.0

10.1

12.9

9.9

11.1

11.9

11.5

Minority women*

3.5

7.3

4.7

7.5

7.4

5.5

6.2

4.7

7.8

7.1

4.8

# of Jobs Taken**

315

329

339

358

337

418

372

383

413

396

375

Federal Judicial Clerks:

White men

48.6

49.1

47.6

47.8

45.1

46.5

43.1

43.9

46.9

44.7

45.9

White women

38.6

35.2

38.5

37.6

40.3

37.2

41.0

6.0

38.2

40.6

39.0

Minority men*

5.3

7.1

5.5

6.7

6.6

7.2

6.9

6.0

6.0

6.7

5.9

Minority women*

7.5

8.6

8.4

7.9

8.0

9.1

9.0

8.6

8.9

8.0

9.2

# of Jobs Taken**

1,248

1,261

1,246

1,250

1,293

1,337

1,335

1,331

1,256

1,260

1,249

State Judicial Clerks:

White men

44.6

43.9

41.8

39.6

40.2

42.2

39.0

39.7

38.5

36.4

37.7

White women

43.0

43.6

44.7

47.0

44.8

43.8

44.7

42.7

44.6

46.3

44.0

Minority men*

4.8

4.5

5.0

4.5

5.9

5.3

5.7

5.8

6.0

5.4

6.1

Minority women*

7.6

8.0

8.5

8.9

9.1

8.7

10.6

11.7

10.9

11.8

12.2

# of Jobs Taken**

1,543

1,653

1,709

1,699

1,858

1,772

1,727

1,767

1,733

1,673

1,724

Source: NALP employment data for the classes of 1994-2004.
* Includes Native Americans, Blacks, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics of any race.
** Jobs with complete demographic information only.

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