Grant-Funded Positions and Job Start Dates for the Class of 2011

NALP Bulletin, November 2012

New information was collected for the Class of 2011 to determine if jobs of fixed duration — either short-term (less than a year) or long-term (a year or more but of a fixed duration, e.g., one or two years) — were funded by graduates' own law schools or by grants from outside organizations. As reported in the September 2012 NALP Bulletin and elsewhere, we have learned that over 1,700 jobs taken by the Class of 2011 were funded by the graduates' own law schools. Information collected on grants reveals that nearly 300 jobs were funded by an outside organization, more often than not for a position lasting at least a year, but of fixed duration.

Because this information was collected for the first time for 2011, and thus may not have been reported in all cases, the actual number of jobs funded by an outside grant is likely higher than the 278 tallied. However, based on those that were reported, we can learn something about the characteristics of these jobs, characteristics which in fact mesh with an anecdotal sense of what kinds of jobs these are.

As the chart and Table 1 show, most jobs are full-time — about 80% — and over half will last at least a year, though nearly all are of a fixed duration, typically one or two years. These jobs, not surprisingly, thus differ from the short-term/part-time nature of law-school funded jobs. The grant-funded jobs are also more likely to be bar passage required full-time — about 60% of the jobs — compared with 27% for law-school-funded jobs.

The most common setting for outside-grant-funded jobs is public interest, which accounted for 54% of those jobs, followed by about 12% each in firm and business settings. About 9% of jobs were in government settings and 8% in academia. A few graduates obtained a grant to fund a clerkship. Within the public interest setting, most jobs were reported as in a legal services or policy/advocacy setting.

To the extent that the grant source was described (for about half the jobs), by far the most common source of funding was Equal Justice Works, either in general or more specifically as Americorps or Equal Justice Public Defenders. (According to the Equal Justice Works website, the DOJ has discontinued funding for the public defender corps, so the 2012-2013 round — which would have been obtained by the class of 2012 — will be the last unless Equal Justice Works can find another funder.) Skadden Fellowships were a distant second, and other fellowships (e.g., the Independence Foundation or the Innocence Project) were typically awarded to one or a few graduates.

Start Dates for Jobs Taken by the Class of 2011

Just over half of employed graduates who started their job between June 2011 and February 15, 2012, did so in August and September of 2011. About 13% started in the January 2012 to February 15, 2012 time period (Table 2). The figures in this table are based on jobs starting during this time period to exclude graduates who had been in their job prior to graduation and to be after graduation for the bulk of 2011 graduates. Because specific graduation date information (e.g., December, May, August) is not collected, it is not possible to fine tune the analysis pool further.

The distribution of start dates varies when looking at more defined segments of the market. For example, start dates in August are more common than average in smaller firms of 50 or fewer lawyers and rare in larger firms, where the majority of start dates are in September and October. For law firm jobs, start dates in the January 2012 to February 15, 2012 time period are most common in the smallest and largest firms. Among broad employer categories, judicial clerks excepted, anywhere from 18% to 25% of jobs started in the January 2012 to February 15, 2012 time period. For legal services and law school research assistants/fellows specifically, the figures are higher, 31% and 35%, respectively, reflecting, at least in part, the prevalence of law-school-funded positions among these employers. Public defender jobs, in contrast, are more likely to start in August or September; about 12% started in the January 2012 to February 15, 2012 time period.




Table 1. Job Types and Duration — Jobs Funded by Outside Grants

Type of Job % of Total
Bar passage required full-time, total 60.4%
Bar passage required full-time, long-term 46.2
Bar passage required full-time, short-term 14.2
Bar passage required part-time, total 8.4
JD Advantage full-time, total 15.3
JD Advantage full-time, long-term 7.6
JD Advantage full-time, short-term 7.6
JD Advantage part-time, short-term 8.7

Note: Figures are based on 274 jobs for which both duration and full-time/part-time information was reported. All jobs reported as bar passage required and part-time were also reported as short-term. A few jobs reported as non-legal are not shown on the table, nor are a few reported as JD Advantage, part-time, and long-term.


Table 2. Start Dates

Type of Employer/Job June - July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January - February 15, 2012 # of jobs*
All Jobs 4.6% 23.2% 28.7% 13.9% 10.0% 5.5% 14.1% 18,848
Law firms 3.9 19.9 30.1 16.2 11.4 5.7 12.9 9,768
  2-10 lawyers 5.4 27.2 19.4 12.9 13.6 7.4 14.1 3,967
  11-25 lawyers 4.5 28.3 27.8 10.4 10.8 5.3 12.9 1,084
  26-50 lawyers 3.1 27.1 38.1 8.6 8.2 5.4 9.5 685
  51-100 lawyers 3.1 20.8 45.5 8.8 6.3 5.5 9.9 523
  101-250 lawyers 3.3 16.0 49.3 17.0 3.8 2.3 8.3 611
  251-500 lawyers 0.9 7.4 48.0 24.2 6.3 1.7 11.6 542
  501+ lawyers 0.9 4.7 40.8 29.2 9.0 3.0 12.4 1,806
Government 5.0 21.8 24.2 13.9 10.4 6.1 18.5 2,166
  Administrative/
  Executive branch**
5.0 19.1 32.1 13.2 11.2 4.0 15.4 402
  Prosecutors 4.4 20.2 23.5 16.0 12.2 6.6 17.0 712
Judicial clerks 3.5 45.1 40.0 3.3 2.3 1.0 4.8 2,212
  Federal clerks 3.7 47.4 39.4 3.2 1.8 0.8 3.7 911
  State clerks 2.5 44.8 42.6 2.5 2.1 1.1 4.4 1,137
Public interest 4.4 19.5 32.0 11.5 7.6 5.8 19.2 1,458
  Public defenders 5.4 24.5 34.4 9.7 7.2 6.9 11.9 404
  Legal services 3.3 11.1 27.6 12.4 9.8 4.7 31.1 450
Academic 4.9 28.9 20.9 10.4 5.3 4.7 24.8 508
  Law school research assistants 2.4 22.3 22.3 10.8 4.8 2.8 34.7 251
Business 7.9 19.5 17.7 16.1 13.1 7.9 17.8 2,714

* This figure is the number of jobs for which a start date between June 1, 2011 and February 15, 2012 was reported.
** Includes agency honors programs.

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