NALP announces the publication of Jobs & J.D.'s: Employment and
Salaries of New Law Graduates — Class of 2000, the only comprehensive study
available on the employment experiences of recent law graduates. This 27th
consecutive report documents the seventh successive increase in the employment
rate of new law graduates. An increase in full-time legal employment accounts
for most of the increase. At the same time, although full-time employment in
other types of jobs decreased slightly, these jobs continue to account for about
one in ten jobs, as they have since 1994. The median starting salary for all
full-time jobs rose from $50,000 for the Class of 1999 to $51,900 for the Class
of 2000. Escalating salaries at large firms widened the salary differential
between private and public sector jobs. The median private practice salary
increased by $10,000, to $80,000, while medians for jobs in government, public
interest organizations, and as judicial clerks increased by just about
A total of 173 ABA-accredited law schools responded to the survey, providing
employment information on 91% of all graduates of the Class of 2000. Among the
Of those graduates whose employment status was known, 91.5% were employed as
of February 15, 2001, representing an increase of 1.2 percentage points over the
Class of 1999 — an increase considerably larger than those for the prior two
years, but still not matching those of the mid-nineties.
Of those whose employment status was known, 79.8% accepted legal positions
and 10.6% accepted positions not directly involved in the practice of law.
Employment in full-time legal positions rose to 77.3% (compared with 75.5% for
the Class of 1999), the sixth increase since 1988.
As in all prior years that NALP has collected data, the most common
employment setting was that of private practice within a law firm. Of graduates
known to be employed, 54.9% obtained their first job in a law firm. The
percentage of graduates employed in private practice has fluctuated only between
55% and 56% since 1994 and is well below the high of 64.3% for the Class of
Public service employment, including government jobs, judicial clerkships,
and public interest positions, accounted for 27.5% of jobs taken by employed
graduates, a slight increase from the figure for the Class of 1999.
Compared to the overall median salary of $51,900, private sector medians are
higher — $80,000 in private practice and $60,000 in business/industry; public
service medians are lower — $40,000 for judicial clerkships and government jobs,
and $34,000 for public interest jobs. The higher median in private practice
notwithstanding, salaries between $35,000 and $55,000 were more common than
salaries of $75,000 or more.
In addition to documenting employment experiences for the class as a whole,
the report clearly demonstrates differences with regard to demographics and
About 43% of employed African-American graduates took jobs in private
practice, while about 57%and 55%, respectively, of employed white and
Asian/Pacific Islander graduates did so.
Employment patterns also differ between men and women, with women more
frequently taking government, judicial clerkship, and public interest positions.
Almost one-third of employed women took these types of positions, compared with
one-quarter of employed men.
Older graduates were less likely to go into private practice and more likely
to enter academic or business settings. About 44% of employed graduates age
41-45 entered private practice, compared with 58% of employed graduates age
20-25. Over one-quarter of employed graduates age 41 or older took jobs in
business/industry, a rate more than twice that of employed graduates age
In some cities, such as Dallas, New York City, and Pittsburgh, jobs in
private practice account for most of the jobs taken by new graduates. In
contrast, cities such as Minneapolis/St. Paul, Miami, and Austin offer
relatively more government and clerkship opportunities.
How and when graduates obtained their jobs and the extent to which employed
graduates continue to seek a different job are also documented by Jobs &
J.D.'s, offering valuable information for everyone interested in understanding
the legal employment market.
The two most common means of obtaining a job were a letter or other
"self-initiated contact" with the employer (reported for about 23% of jobs), and
fall on-campus interviewing (OCI), which accounted for 24% of jobs taken.
Overall just over one-third of law firm jobs were obtained through Fall OCI; few
jobs at small firms are obtained in this way.
About 69% of the 28,506 jobs for which timing of offer was reported were
obtained before graduation. One in five jobs was obtained after graduation but
before bar results; the remaining 13% were obtained after bar results were
issued. Jobs in the military, state or federal judicial clerks, and at large law
firms were most likely to be obtained before graduation.
The percentage of employed graduates who were still seeking another job
decreased from 13.5% for the Class of 1999 to 11.3% for the Class of 2000.
Graduates of color were the most likely to be seeking other employment, along
with graduates aged 41 and older.
The complete Jobs & J.D.'s report provides more detail on these topics as
well as others, including salary levels and the nature of jobs by law firm size,
level of government, and type of business; salaries for all states; full-time
law firm salaries for over 200 cities; geographic mobility of graduates; job
status by demographic characteristics; and employment patterns for all states
and selected cities.