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Employment Patterns — 1982-2004

NALP Bulletin, June 2006

NALP’s graduate employment data show that, historically, women and minorities are less likely to take jobs in law firms and more likely to take jobs with public sector employers. The table below shows the kinds of jobs taken by the Classes of 1982, 1994, and 2004. Note that minorities are defined as African-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders (including East Indian/Pakistanis), Native Americans, and Hispanics of any race.

  • Compared to men, women from the Class of 2004 were less likely to enter private practice and more likely to accept positions in government or public interest organizations or as judicial clerks. Although this pattern is similar to those of prior years, the differences have narrowed. Women, however, remain about twice as likely as men to take public interest jobs.

  • It is also the case that, compared with men going into private practice, women are somewhat more likely to take jobs in firms of more than 100 lawyers, and somewhat less likely to take jobs in very small firms of 2-10 lawyers. The percentage of women going into private practice and taking jobs in firms of more than 100 lawyers has been about 3 percentage points higher than the rate for men.

  • Minorities likewise enter private practice less frequently than do non-minorities. However, the 7 percentage point differential in 2004 is well below the almost 16 percentage point difference in 1982, and also contrasts with about an 11 percentage point differential as recently as the mid-1990s.

  • Minorities entering private practice are more likely to obtain jobs in firms of more than 100 lawyers than are non-minorities, even as the share of jobs in large firms has generally increased over the period for both groups. For the Class of 2004, the figures were 39.2% and 33.3%, respectively. The difference has fluctuated from about 7 percentage points in 1982, to just over 11 percentage points in 1994, to about 6 percentage points in 2004.

  • Compared to non-minorities, minorities have been and remain more likely to take jobs in government and public interest organizations. However, because of an overall decline in the prevalence of such jobs among minorities and an increase in public service employment among non-minorities, the difference in 2004 is less than half of what it was in 1994. The relative decline in government and public interest employment among minorities is noteworthy — from over 28% of jobs to about 21% of jobs.

Initial Employer Types — Comparisons for the
Classes of 1982, 1994, and 2004

Men and Women


1982

1994

2004

Men

Women

Men

Women

Men

Women

Private Practice 60.4% 54.2% 58.9% 51.4% 58.6% 56.0%
Size of Firm*
Solo 7.7 5.8 5.7 4.1 3.3 2.2
2-10 38.9 36.9 36.0 35.6 32.1 30.6
11-25 14.4 13.5 12.1 10.8 10.8 10.7
26-50 10.7 10.1 7.6 6.5 7.2 6.4
51-100 9.5 11.7 7.6 7.9 5.8 6.3
101+ 13.9 17.0 22.4 26.0 33.0 35.9
Business/Industry 11.5 8.5 12.2 10.9 12.5 10.0;
Government 12.8 14.2 12.6 14.9 12.1 11.9
Judicial Clerkships 9.4 13.8 11.4 15.2 10.7 12.8
Public Interest 1.4 3.4 1.8 3.8 3.4 6.1
Academic 1.1 1.9 0.8 1.4 1.4 1.7
Total # of Jobs 15,695 7,139 13,936 10,076 15,426 14,769

 

Minorities and Non-Minorities


1982

1994

2004

Non-minorities

Minorities

Non-minorities

Minorities

Non-minorities

Minorities

Private Practice 59.4% 43.5% 57.5% 46.2% 58.7% 51.7%
Size of Firm*
Solo 7.2 6.5 5.2 4.7 2.7 3.2
2-10 38.4 35.5 37.4 27.5 32.4 28.2
11-25 14.3 11.1 12.1 8.9 11.5 8.1
26-50 10.7 8.1 7.5 5.6 7.1 5.4
51-100 10.1 10.0 7.6 9.3 6.3 5.7
101+ 14.5 21.3 22.7 34.0 33.3 39.2
Business/Industry 10.5 11.4 11.7 11.4 10.8 12.8
Government 12.8 21.0 12.4 20.8 11.6 13.9
Judicial Clerkships 10.9 9.6 13.3 11.6 12.1 10.5
Public Interest 1.7 7.4 2.2 5.4 4.3 6.8
Academic 1.3 1.8 0.9 1.8 1.4 2.5
Total # of Jobs 21,495 1,339 19,622 3,298 23,014 5,590

Note: Percentages are based on all graduates known to be employed, including those for whom employer types are not shown; hence percentages may not add to 100. Information for 1982 was adjusted to exclude graduates pursuing an advanced degree from the academic category and to include public defenders in the government category, as they were in 1994. However, effective with the Class of 2004, the public interest category once again includes public defenders.

* Percentages by size of firm are based on law firm jobs only and do not add to 100 because the unknown size category is not shown.



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