What We Know About JD Advantage Jobs - An Update for the Class of 2020

NALP Bulletin +
January 2022

NALP's latest analysis of JD Advantage job data from the Class of 2020 Employment Report and Salary Survey reveals that despite the continuing decline in both the percentage of graduates employed in JD Advantage jobs and the total number of JD Advantage jobs taken, the vast majority of these jobs (73%) remain high-quality jobs in terms of being both long-term and full-time. Key findings from the tables and charts that follow are presented below.


Key Findings on JD Advantage Jobs:

  • The percentage of jobs taken by law school graduates which are JD Advantage almost doubled in the 10-year period from 2006-2016, increasing from 8.8% of all jobs in 2006 to 16.9% of jobs in 2016. Since 2016, this figure has declined by more than 5 percentage points, dropping to 11.8% for the Class of 2020. This recent falloff is also reflected in government and public interest, where the percentage of JD Advantage jobs has decreased by approximately 6 percentage points in each sector since 2012. Conversely, the share of JD Advantage jobs in business has increased overall by 9 percentage points during this same time period. However, at 48% of all business jobs in 2020, JD Advantage jobs are down from their peak of about 52% of all business jobs in 2016 and 2018. (See Table 1 and  Table 2.)

  • The differential in median starting salaries for JD Advantage jobs in comparison to all jobs has varied over time. In 2008, the gap was $12,000; however, this gap declined to about $3,000 - $5,000 from 2012-2018. In 2020, the difference grew to $8,000. (See Chart 1 and Table 3.)

  • Nearly three-quarters (72.8%) of JD Advantage jobs for the Class of 2020 were high-quality jobs in terms of being both long-term and full-time, although this figure was down by approximately 4 percentage points in comparison to the Class of 2018. In 2020, more than 80% of the JD Advantage jobs in business and government were long-term, full-time positions. (See Table 4.)

Additional findings focused on JD Advantage jobs in business, a sector which has typically accounted for 40%-50% of the JD Advantage jobs taken by law school graduates since 2006, are presented in Table 6 and Table 7.


Key Findings on JD Advantage Jobs in Business:

  • By far the largest share of JD Advantage jobs — 36% — are full-time, long-term jobs in business, down from 40% for the Class of 2018. This percentage is nearly three times larger than each of the next two categories: full-time, long-term jobs in government and full-time, long-term jobs in private practice. Full-time, long-term JD Advantage jobs in private practice are primarily law clerk (59.6%) or paralegal (20.8%) positions and nearly 62% of these jobs are found in small firms of 1-10 lawyers. (See Table 5.)

  • Looking at specific job types for JD Advantage jobs in business for the Class of 2020, nearly one in six (15.6%) are compliance jobs. Tax associates and jobs in consulting each made up nearly 9% of all JD Advantage jobs in business. (See Table 6.)

  • By employment setting for JD Advantage jobs in business for the Class of 2020, the largest is banking/finance, accounting for nearly 14% of such jobs (this is also the employment setting for over one-third of the compliance jobs), followed by technology companies of any type — law-related or not — (12.3%), and accounting firms (11.0%). The percentage of JD Advantage business jobs within technology companies has been trending upward in recent years and has increased by 3.5 percentage points since the Class of 2016. (See Table 7.)

Additional information on JD Advantage jobs is included in Jobs & JDs: Employment and Salaries of New Law Graduates, Class of 2020 — now available for purchase in the NALP Bookstore.


Chart 1. Median and Average Starting Salaries for JD Advantage Jobs in Comparison to All Jobs, Classes of 2006 - 2020



Table 1. JD Advantage Jobs, 2006 - 2020

  Law School Graduating Class of:
2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020
% of Graduates for Whom Employment Status Was Known Taking JD Advantage Jobs 7.9% 8.1% 10.7% 13.3% 14.8% 14.8% 12.5% 10.4%
Total # of Jobs Taken 36,465 36,497 36,043 37,538 36,350 31,354 29,953 29,382
Total # of JD Advantage Jobs Taken 3,194 3,277 4,387 5,877 6,228 5,311 4,178 3,465
% of Jobs That Are JD Advantage 8.8% 9.0% 12.2% 15.7% 17.0% 16.9% 13.9% 11.8%
# of JD Advantage Jobs Taken in Business 1,531 1,473 1,591 2,628 3,118 2,537 2,020 1,494

Note: For the years 2006-2010 JD Advantage jobs were referred as JD Preferred. The category was renamed as JD Advantage starting with the Class of 2011.
Source: NALP's Jobs & JDs, Classes of 2006-2020


Table 2. Percentage of All Jobs That Are Bar Passage Required (BPR) vs. JD Advantage (JDA) by Employment Sector, 2006 - 2020

Employment Sector Law School Graduating Class of:
2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020
All Jobs
% of Jobs That Are BPR 84.0% 83.9% 79.1% 76.3% 76.5% 77.4% 81.5% 84.3%
% of Jobs That Are JDA 8.9 9.1 12.3 15.7 17.1 16.9 13.9 11.8
Education
% of Jobs That Are BPR 16.4 20.6 33.3 17.9 20.8 14.4 17.4 13.5
% of Jobs That Are JDA 40.8 44.3 39.7 49.0 50.4 47.4 52.2 54.2
Business
% of Jobs That Are BPR 34.8 33.3 32.2 29.2 27.3 24.0 25.5 28.9
% of Jobs That Are JDA 30.1 30.5 29.6 39.3 47.4 51.9 52.1 48.3
Private Practice
% of Jobs That Are BPR 96.2 96.9 94.3 93.2 93.1 91.8 94.1 94.8
% of Jobs That Are JDA 3.4 2.8 5.2 6.2 6.6 7.7 5.6 5.0
Government
% of Jobs That Are BPR 81.4 80.4 74.3 71.0 71.9 72.4 76.1 77.4
% of Jobs That Are JDA 11.5 12.6 17.9 22.8 22.3 21.7 18.0 17.3
Public Interest
% of Jobs That Are BPR 85.9 81.7 76.1 76.9 77.5 78.7 81.6 85.5
% of Jobs That Are JDA 10.0 13.6 18.1 18.4 18.0 17.5 15.3 12.4

Note: For the years 2006-2010 JD Advantage jobs were referred as JD Preferred. The category was renamed as JD Advantage starting with the Class of 2011.
Source: NALP's Jobs & JDs, Classes of 2006-2020


Table 3. Median and Average Starting Salaries for JD Advantage Jobs in Comparison to All Jobs, 2006 - 2020

  Law School Graduating Class of:
2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020
All Jobs - Median Salary ($) $62,000 $72,000 $63,000 $61,000 $63,000 $65,000 $70,000 $75,000
JD Advantage Jobs – Median Salary ($) 55,000 60,000 52,000 57,000 60,000 60,000 65,000 67,000
All Jobs – Average Salary ($) 78,000 92,000 84,000 81,000 82,000 90,500 98,000 103,000
JD Advantage Jobs – Average Salary ($) 62,000 65,500 60,000 64,500 66,000 70,000 76,500 77,500

Note: Mean and median salaries are rounded to the nearest $500.
Source: NALP's Jobs & JDs, Classes of 2006-2020


Table 4. Characteristics of JD Advantage Jobs by Employer Setting - Class of 2020

  Percent of JD Advantage Jobs in Each Sector Which Were:
Full-Time and Long-Term Part-Time and Long-Term Full-Time and Short-Term Part-Time and Short-Term
All JD Advantage Jobs 72.8% 9.4% 8.2% 9.1%
JD Advantage Jobs in Business 84.2 5.4 6.5 3.7
JD Advantage Jobs in Law Firms 51.4 22.1 9.0 16.3
JD Advantage Jobs in Government 80.1 4.5 11.0 4.5
JD Advantage Jobs in Public Interest 71.1 6.3 13.2 9.4
JD Advantage Jobs in Education 60.5 7.3 3.0 29.2

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because one or both of the job characteristics were not reported for a small number of jobs.
Source: NALP's Jobs & JDs, Class of 2020


Table 5. Prevalence of JD Advantage Jobs by Job Characteristics and Employment Sector - Class of 2020

The Most Common Settings and Job Characteristics for JD Advantage Jobs Are: And Accounted For:
In Business and Full-Time, Long-Term

 

36.3% of JD Advantage Jobs
In Government and Full-Time, Long-Term

 

13.5% of JD Advantage Jobs
In Private Practice and Full-Time, Long-Term

 

12.3% of JD Advantage Jobs
In Public Interest and Full-Time, Long-Term

 

6.5% of JD Advantage Jobs
In Private Practice and Part-Time, Long-Term 5.3% of JD Advantage Jobs
In Education and Full-Time, Long-Term 4.1% of JD Advantage Jobs
In Private Practice and Part-Time, Short-Term 3.9% of JD Advantage Jobs

Note: Percentages are based on all JD Advantage jobs reported for the Class of 2020; however, not all possible combinations are shown in the table above, thus percentages do not add up to 100%. The combinations shown above each accounted for at least 135 jobs and together made up 81.8% of all JD Advantage jobs.
Source: NALP's Jobs & JDs, Class of 2020


Table 6. Top Job Types for JD Advantage Jobs in Business - Class of 2020

Type of Business Job # of Jobs % of All JD Advantage Jobs in Business
Compliance 233 15.6%
Tax Associate 131 8.8
Consulting 129 8.6
Law Clerk or Paralegal 123 8.2
Management 113 7.6
Contract Manager/Analyst 109 7.3
Self-Employed 60 4.0
Business Development/Marketing 56 3.7

Note: Percentages are based on all JD Advantage jobs taken in business reported for the Class of 2020, a total of 1,494 jobs. The category of "other" job in business accounts for the largest share of JD Advantage jobs in business, at 28.7%, and is not shown above. Other categories shown above each accounted for at least 50 jobs.
Source: NALP's Jobs & JDs, Class of 2020


Table 7. Top Kinds of Employers for JD Advantage Jobs in Business - Class of 2020

Kind of Business Employer # of Jobs % of All JD Advantage Jobs in Business
Banking/Finance 201 13.5%
Technology/Legal Technology 184 12.3
Accounting 165 11.0
Healthcare 107 7.2
Management Consulting 79 5.3
Real Estate 77 5.2
Legal Temp Agency 61 4.1
Legal Process Outsourcer (LPO) 60 4.0
Insurance 59 3.9

Note: Percentages are based on all JD Advantage jobs taken in business reported for the Class of 2020, a total of 1,494 jobs. The category of "other" business employer accounts for the largest share of JD Advantage jobs in business, at 25.4%, and is not shown above. Categories shown above each accounted for at least 50 jobs.
Source: NALP's Jobs & JDs, Class of 2020

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