Law Firm Jobs in 20 Cities - 2009-2012

NALP Bulletin, October 2013

As NALP reported earlier this year, the percentage of jobs in private practice recovered somewhat for the Class of 2012, to 50.7% of jobs. Moreover, because the number of jobs taken overall increased, the number of jobs taken in law firms increased by almost 1,400 compared with 2011. The number and share of jobs in firms of more than 250 lawyers were also up. The number increased by about 24% and the share of jobs in these firms grew from 21% of firm jobs to over 24%.

Nonetheless, compared with 2009, the number of law firm jobs, the percentage of jobs in law firms, and the share of law firm jobs in firms of more than 250 lawyers have all decreased — most precipitously in 2010, when the law firm share of jobs dropped to 50.9% from 55.9% in 2009.

As the accompanying table shows, however, these measures varied considerably among the 20 cities providing the most jobs to the Class of 2012. (Note that not all of these cities have been among the top 20 employment locations in all years. In 2012, for example, Charlotte and Indianapolis replaced New Orleans and Pittsburgh on the top 20 list.) With a few exceptions, each city provided fewer law firm jobs to the Class of 2012 compared to the Class of 2009, usually with double-digit decreases. As might be expected, the cities with the largest share of law firm jobs in large firms in 2009 — Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC — showed some of the largest drops in law firm jobs from 2009-2012, even though all four had an increase in 2012 compared with 2011. No other city recorded as large a percentage decrease in law firm jobs except San Diego, a city with far fewer law firm jobs overall.

In two cities, Baltimore and Indianapolis, the number of law firm jobs has held relatively steady, despite declines earlier in the period, while Houston, Phoenix, and Miami all had 5-10% more jobs in 2012 compared with 2009. There was not a decrease in any year in Houston, and only one in Miami — from 2011 to 2012. Generally the number of jobs increased from 2011-2012, but four cities did not conform to this pattern. Three of these are in the Midwest: Columbus, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis. Seattle was the fourth.

Looking at jobs in large firms specifically also reveals large differences among these cities. Every city had fewer large firm jobs in 2012 compared with 2009, but the decrease in percentage terms was far less in Atlanta and Miami than in other cities. These two cities are also among the few with more law firm jobs total in 2012 than in 2009. The departure from the overall pattern noted for Columbus, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Seattle above also held for large firms specifically. Among larger cities (offering at least 300 law firm jobs in 2012), Atlanta registered the largest gains in jobs in large law firms from 2011 to 2012, followed by Chicago and Dallas.

A summary of findings on the Class of 2012, with commentary and analysis, can be found on the NALP website at www.nalp.org/uploads/Classof2012SelectedFindings.pdf. For more information about law firm jobs in these cities, law firm jobs in every state, and much more, be sure to order your full copy of the full Jobs & JDs report for the Class of 2012 (available from NALP's online bookstore).


Law Firm Jobs Reported Taken in Selected Cities — 2009-2012

CITY TOTAL NUMBER OF LAW FIRM JOBS % Change 2009-2010 % Change 2010-2011 % Change 2011-2012 % Change 2009-2012 JOBS IN FIRMS OF 251+ % OF LAW FIRM JOBS IN FIRMS OF 251+
2009 2010 2011 2012 % Change 2009-2010 % Change 2010-2011 % Change 2011-2012 % Change 2009-2012 % of Jobs 2009 % of Jobs 2012
Atlanta 341 290 283 378 -15.0% -2.4% 33.6% 10.9% -32.4% -15.3% 65.1% -5.5% 42.5% 36.2%
Baltimore 98 91 87 98 -7.1 -4.4 12.6 0.0 -50.0 40.0 0.0 -30.0 20.4 14.3
Boston 524 387 334 376 -26.1 -13.7 12.6 -28.2 -35.8 -33.7 35.5 -42.3 61.8 49.7
Charlotte 125 60 73 96 -52.0 21.7 31.5 -23.2 -65.2 31.3 42.9 -34.8 36.8 31.3
Chicago 1,047 809 754 852 -22.7 -6.8 13.0 -18.6 -32.2 -41.2 57.7 -37.2 46.5 35.9
Columbus 107 96 114 96 -10.3 18.8 -15.8 -10.3 -34.6 58.8 -40.7 -38.5 24.3 16.7
Dallas 373 275 269 309 -26.3 -2.2 14.9 -17.2 -39.8 -26.2 46.1 -35.1 45.8 35.9
Denver 178 131 151 160 -26.4 15.3 6.0 -10.1 -39.0 8.0 14.8 -24.4 23.0 19.4
Houston 476 479 501 502 0.6 4.6 0.2 5.5 -22.4 -9.6 19.5 -16.1 33.8 26.9
Indianapolis 116 93 98 118 -19.8 5.4 20.4 1.7 -48.4 62.5 -7.7 -22.6 26.7 20.3
Los Angeles 730 563 530 570 -22.9 -5.9 7.5 -21.9 -26.5 -16.3 11.2 -31.6 53.7 47.0
Miami 235 244 291 259 3.8 19.3 -11.0 10.2 5.3 -10.0 2.8 -2.6 16.2 14.3
Minneapolis/
St. Paul
215 188 205 189 -12.6 9.0 -7.8 -12.1 -42.6 68.6 -35.6 -37.7 28.4 20.1
New York City 2,763 2,396 1,827 2,182 -13.3 -23.7 19.4 -21.0 -18.1 -32.2 23.6 -31.4 77.3 67.1
Philadelphia 288 231 228 227 -19.8 -1.3 -0.4 -21.2 -38.5 -12.5 29.9 -30.1 49.7 44.1
Phoenix 121 116 122 132 -4.1 5.2 8.2 9.1 -37.9 -16.7 66.7 -13.8 24.0 18.9
San Diego 325 270 232 235 -16.9 -14.1 1.3 -27.7 -27.5 -34.0 39.4 -33.3 21.2 19.6
San Francisco 406 317 321 347 -21.9 1.3 8.1 -14.5 -34.9 -17.3 33.6 -28.1 61.3 51.6
Seattle 197 192 143 155 -2.5 -25.5 8.4 -21.3 -47.8 0.0 -11.1 -53.6 35.0 20.6
Washington, DC 1,077 806 713 796 -25.2 -11.5 11.6 -26.1 -28.2 -22.8 20.1 -33.4 78.4 70.6
Nationwide 20,145 18,329 17,666 19,042 -9.0 -3.6 7.8 -5.5 -26.8 -22.8 23.8 -30.0 32.9 24.4

Note: All figures are as reported by law schools for the graduating classes of 2009 -2012. The cities included are those that provided the most jobs to the Class of 2012.

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

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