NALP announces the publication of Jobs & J.D.'s: Employment and
Salaries of New Law Graduates - Class of 2001, the only comprehensive study
available on the employment experiences of recent law graduates. This 28th
consecutive report documents the first decrease in the employment rate of new
law graduates since 1993, with a figure of 90% of graduates for whom employment
status was known. This compares with a figure of 91.5% for the prior year, and
is evidence of the effect of the general economic downturn on the employment
market for new law school graduates. The decrease notwithstanding, it is also
the case that in recent years the employment market for new law school graduates
has been relatively strong, standing at or above the 90% employment rate mark.
This contrasts with the early and mid-nineties, when employment rates were in
the 84-85% range. The median starting salary for all full-time jobs rose from
$51,900 for the Class of 2000 to $55,000 for the Class of 2001. Although
salaries at large firms generally did not increase beyond the $125,000 level,
the increasing frequency of salaries at this level widened the salary
differential between private and public sector jobs. The median salary in
private practice increased by $10,000, to $90,000, while medians for jobs in
government, public interest organizations, and as judicial clerks remained
A total of 174 ABA-accredited law schools responded to the survey, providing
employment information on 91% of all graduates of the Class of 2001. Among the
- Of the graduates for whom employment status was known, 75.9% obtained a job
for which bar passage is required. An additional 6% obtained jobs for which a
J.D. degree is preferred, or may even be required, but for which bar passage is
- 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, 57.8% obtained their first job in a law firm. The
percentage of graduates employed in private practice has fluctuated only between
55% and 58% since 1993 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 27.6% of jobs taken by
employed graduates, similar to the figure for the Class of 2000.
- Compared to the overall median salary of $55,000, private sector
medians are higher - $90,000 in private practice and $60,000 in
business/industry; public service medians are lower - $40,300 for judicial
clerkships, 41,000 for government jobs, and $35,000 for public interest jobs.
The higher median in private practice notwithstanding, salaries between $35,000
and $55,000 were as common as salaries of more than $75,000.
In addition to documenting employment experiences for the class as a whole,
the report clearly demonstrates differences with regard to demographics and
- About 44% of employed African-American graduates took jobs in
private practice, while about 60% and 59%, 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 47% of employed graduates age
41-45 entered private practice, compared with 62% of employed graduates age
20-25. About one-quarter of employed graduates age 41 or older took jobs in
business/industry, a rate more than three times that of employed graduates age
- In some cities, such as Dallas, New York City, and San Francisco, jobs in
private practice account for most of the jobs taken by new graduates. In
contrast, cities such as Minneapolis/St. Paul and Miami offer relatively more
government and clerkship opportunities, while opportunities in business were
relatively abundant in Columbus, Seattle, and St. Louis.
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 21% of jobs), and
fall on-campus interviewing (OCI), which accounted for about 27% of jobs taken.
Overall, just 40% of law firm jobs were obtained through Fall OCI; few jobs at
small firms are obtained in this way.
- About 71% of the 29,118 jobs for which timing of offer was
reported were obtained before graduation. One in six jobs was obtained after
graduation but before bar results; the remaining 12% 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
remained unchanged at 11.3%. Graduates of color and those age 41 and older were
most likely to be seeking other employment, along with those that attended law
school part time. 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.