Job Opportunities and Population Change, 1991-2000

A decade of detailed information on law firm opportunities for new law graduates reveals many differences for the 40 cities shown in the table. The cities included are a mix of those traditionally supplying a lot of jobs to new graduates (e.g., Boston and New York), growing cities (e.g., Salt Lake City and San Antonio), and cities for which substantial law firm growth has been suggested (e.g., Boulder, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Kansas City, and Las Vegas). Nationwide figures are provided as a benchmark.

  • Among the cities traditionally supplying a large number of jobs to new graduates, Boston has led the way, with a 49% increase from 1991-2000, followed by Washington, D.C., and New York. Population in Boston and Washington, D.C., has decreased or at best held relatively constant. Population has increased modestly in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but the law firm entry-level job market has contracted rather dramatically in Los Angeles and also declined in San Francisco.

  • Some cities, such as Baltimore, Hartford, and Philadelphia, have been both losing population and offering fewer law firm opportunities to new graduates.

  • In contrast, Cleveland, a city losing population, is offering far more opportunities to new graduates. Detroit and Pittsburgh are also losing population but offering more opportunities.

  • With the number of jobs about doubling and tripling respectively, Salt Lake City and Palo Alto lead the way in law firm job growth.

  • Population growth in cities such as Raleigh, Phoenix, and Houston has not been accompanied by commensurate job growth. Other growing cities, such as Charlotte, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City, while not offering large numbers of jobs, nonetheless are offering far more jobs than was the case ten years ago.

  • Sunbelt cities have experienced population growth to varying degrees. Some, such as Austin, Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and San Antonio, have also experienced notable growth in law firm opportunities. Austin offers perhaps the most dramatic example. In many of these cities, this increase has been achieved despite slower growth after 1995. Both Austin and Jacksonville have been identified as potential law firm growth hotspots. Charlotte has also been identified as a growth city and, after a fairly stable market through the mid ‘90s, experienced a 65% increase from 1995 to 2000. Opportunities in Raleigh have grown more modestly.

  • Finally, these data provide some perspective on the impact of the recession of the early ‘90s. In some cities, such as Los Angeles and Philadelphia, opportunities decreased in that time and have not recovered to their 1991 levels. In cities such as Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., the earlier declines have been more than overcome. Some cities, such as Austin, Jacksonville, and Orlando appear to have defied the downturn, while Baltimore and Hartford are on an overall downward trend.


NUMBER OF JOBS:

PERCENT CHANGE:

Population Change, 1990-2000


1991

1995

1999

2000

1991-1995

1995-2000

1991-2000

Atlanta

289

344

396

397

19.0

15.4

37.0

5.7

Austin

63

92

136

140

46.0

52.2

122.2

41.0

Baltimore

134

101

109

92

–24.6

–8.9

–31.3

–11.5

Boston

345

355

496

514

2.9

44.8

49.0

2.6

Boulder

16

13

14

17

–18.8

30.8

6.3

10.0

Charlotte

47

49

73

81

4.3

65.3

72.3

36.6

Chicago

756

756

883

808

0.0

6.9

6.9

4.0

Cleveland

106

166

182

212

56.6

27.7

100.0

–5.4

Columbus

90

98

123

116

8.9

18.4

28.9

12.4

Dallas/Ft. Worth

277

322

424

382

16.2

18.6

37.9

18.5

Detroit

57

93

79

77

63.2

–17.2

35.1

–7.5

Ft. Lauderdale

36

53

54

61

47.2

15.1

69.4

2.0

Hartford

93

62

75

76

–33.3

22.6

18.3

–13.0

Houston

374

399

427

378

6.7

–5.3

1.1

19.8

Indianapolis

107

119

133

124

11.2

4.2

15.9

6.7

Jacksonville, FL

30

41

56

64

36.7

56.1

113.3

15.8

Kansas City, MO

100

120

129

131

20.0

9.2

31.0

1.5

Las Vegas

42

51

71

80

21.4

56.9

90.5

85.2

Los Angeles

797

590

700

697

–26.0

18.1

–12.5

6.0

Miami

139

198

212

208

42.4

5.1

49.6

1.1

Minneapolis/St. Paul

216

215

204

213

0.0

–0.9

–1.4

4.6

New York City

1,512

1,491

2,035

1,893

–1.4

27.0

25.2

9.4

New Haven

28

16

26

26

–42.9

62.5

–7.1

–5.2

Orlando

38

57

73

72

50.0

26.3

89.5

12.9

Palo Alto

55

83

166

233

50.9

180.7

323.6

5.4*

Philadelphia

364

238

327

325

–34.6

36.6

–10.7

–4.3

Phoenix

128

110

135

117

–14.1

6.4

–8.6

34.3

Pittsburgh

149

155

184

182

4.0

17.4

22.1

–9.5

Portland, OR

87

69

108

130

–20.7

88.4

49.4

21.0

Raleigh

46

40

44

59

–13.0

47.5

28.3

32.8

Sacramento

75

72

83

93

–4.0

29.2

24.0

10.2

Salt Lake City

24

69

70

73

187.5

5.8

204.2

13.6

San Francisco

381

225

387

366

–40.9

62.7

–3.9

7.3

San Antonio

39

101

84

67

159.0

–33.7

71.8

22.3

San Diego

208

187

165

213

–10.1

13.9

2.4

10.2

Seattle

155

119

170

156

–23.2

31.1

0.6

9.1

St. Louis

161

167

180

159

3.7

–4.8

–1.2

–12.2

Tampa

60

63

72

87

5.0

38.1

45.0

8.4

W. Palm Beach

27

30

34

28

11.1

–6.7

3.7

15.2*

Washington, DC

688

627

875

945

–8.9

50.7

37.4

–5.7

Nationwide

15,681

15,759

17,652

17,383

0.5

10.3

10.9


Because NALP employment survey coverage in general has been increasing, and participating schools vary slightly from year to year, figures and percentages are not precise. They are, however, indicative of the contrasts from city to city.
Source for population figures: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 PHC-T-5. Ranking Tables for Incorporated Places of 100,000 or More: 1990 and 2000.
*Figures for Palo Alto and West Palm Beach reflect change from April 1, 1990 to July 1, 1999. Census Bureau, Population Estimates Program, SU-99-3. Internet release date, October 20, 2000.

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