Jobs for New Law Graduates — A 20-Year Retrospective

NALP Bulletin, July 2016

Over the past 20+ years, law school graduates have become an increasingly diverse group. White males accounted for just barely a plurality of graduates in 2014, compared with half in 1994. Minorities now account for over one-quarter of graduates, compared with about 15% in 1994. However, NALP employment data for graduates over this period shows that in some job categories women and minorities continue to be under-represented compared to their representation among law school graduates, while for other types of jobs women and minorities are over-represented.

In firms of 1-10 lawyers, the proportion of jobs obtained by white men has declined from 55% to 44%, while the proportion of jobs taken by minorities, particularly minority women, has increased. Nonetheless, relative to numbers among graduates as a whole, white men continue to obtain a somewhat disproportionate share of these jobs, while minorities obtain a smaller share. Representation of white women has been relatively proportionate to their presence among graduates.

In contrast, the share of jobs in large firms obtained by minority women has almost doubled since 1994 and is now about equal to their representation among graduates as a whole. The share obtained by minority men has shown improvement in recent years — exceeding by a bit their representation among graduates as a whole. The share of jobs taken by white men has decreased from about 49% in 1994, but has hovered in the 40-42% range in the past ten years.

Prosecutorial positions at all levels of government have been a fairly good source of employment for minorities. With relatively more minority graduates, however, minorities are now under-represented in these jobs, in contrast to prior years for minority men and years prior to 2009 for minority women.

Jobs in the military present a unique demographic profile. In 1994, two-thirds of these jobs were obtained by white men, and only recently has the proportion come down to closer to half. Nonetheless, white men continue to be over-represented among graduates obtaining these jobs. This has generally been true for minority men as well. Conversely, despite gains, 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, and for the last ten years this has been true for white men as well. Minorities, especially men, have been under-represented. The percentage of state judicial clerkships obtained by women has consistently exceeded their representation among graduates as a whole, whereas men, both minority and non-minority, have generally been under-represented, although the percentages for white men came close in 2014. The presence of minority women, however, mirrored that among graduates as a whole in 2004, but has not in more recent years.

The percentage of state judicial clerkships obtained by women has consistently exceeded their representation among graduates as a whole, whereas men, both minority and non-minority, have generally been under-represented, although the percentages for white men came close in 2014. The presence of minority women, however, mirrored that among graduates as a whole in 2004, but has not in more recent years.


Demographic Profile of Selected Job Types — 1994-2014
(Percent of Jobs Obtained by Each Demographic Group)

  GRADUATING CLASS
1994 1999 2004 2009 2014
All Jobs:
        White men 50.6% 47.0% 42.5% 44.2% 41.7%
        White women 35.1 35.2 37.8 33.9 32.7
        Minority men 6.8 8.3 8.2 9.6 11.2
        Minority women 7.5 9.5 11.5 12.2 14.3
        # of Jobs Taken* 25,006 30,261 30,035 32,476 33,304***
Law Firms of 1-10 Lawyers: **
        White men 55.3 51.5 45.9 46.8 43.8
        White women 35.2 35.7 38.0 35.3 33.7
        Minority men 5.0 6.4 7.0 7.8 9.8
        Minority women 4.5 6.4 9.1 10.1 12.7
        # of Jobs Taken* 5,222 4,790 5,552 6,241 7,145
Law Firms of More than 100 Lawyers:
        White men 49.3 46.2 42.0 42.3 40.2
        White women 33.9 34.8 37.8 32.9 30.6
        Minority men 8.6 8.5 7.9 11.2 13.4
        Minority women 8.2 10.5 12.4 13.6 15.8
        # of Jobs Taken* 3,105 5,968 5,620 7,083 5,341
Prosecutors:
        White men 42.4 42.7 40.3 41.6 42.7
        White women 36.2 37.7 38.4 34.3 34.5
        Minority men 10.1 8.5 9.5 9.7 9.6
        Minority women 11.4 11.9 11.8 14.4 13.2
        # of Jobs Taken* 1,100 1,485 1,343 1,166 1,340
Jobs in Military:
        White men 66.0 65.1 61.9 65.9 52.9
        White women 20.6 19.4 21.9 17.8 24.8
        Minority men 9.8 10.1 11.5 10.2 13.4
        Minority women 3.5 5.5 4.8 6.1 8.9
        # of Jobs Taken* 315 418 375 411 314
Federal Judicial Clerkships:
        White men 48.6 46.5 45.9 48.4 46.9
        White women 38.6 37.2 39.0 37.7 37.1
        Minority men 5.3 7.2 5.9 5.0 6.4
        Minority women 7.5 9.1 9.2 8.9 9.5
        # of Jobs Taken* 1,248 1,337 1,249 1,020 1,127
State Judicial Clerkships:
        White men 44.6 42.2 37.7 39.5 40.5
        White women 43.0 43.8 44.0 42.9 40.8
        Minority men 4.8 5.3 6.1 5.8 6.7
        Minority women 7.6 8.7 12.2 11.8 11.9
        # of Jobs Taken* 1,543 1,772 1,724 1,505 1,692
All graduates:
        White men 49.5 46.0 41.6 43.7 41.2
        White women 35.1 34.8 37.4 33.5 31.8
        Minority men 7.3 9.0 8.7 10.0 11.8
        Minority women 8.1 10.2 12.2 12.8 15.1
        # of graduates**** 32,447 34,910 34,910 38,079 39,126

Source: NALP employment data for the Classes of 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014.

Note: Minorities are defined here to include Native Americans, African-Americans/Blacks, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics of any race, and multi-racial individuals.

* Jobs with complete graduate demographic information only.

** This category includes graduates working for a solo practitioner.

*** Job counts for 2014 include those taken by a small number of graduates who indicated that they do not identify as either male or female.

**** Graduates for whom this demographic information was reported, and for 2014 a small number of graduates who indicated that they do not identify as either male or female.

National Association for Law Placement, Inc.® (NALP®)
1220 19th Street NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20036-2405
(202) 835-1001 info@nalp.org
© Copyright 2019 NALP

STAY CONNECTED



View Full Site