Law Firm Opportunities and Population Change, 1991-2002

NALP periodically tracks law firm employment opportunities against changes in population in cities across the country. The table below provides a look at the correlation (or lack thereof) between job opportunities and increases and decreases in population between 1991 and 2002. The chart presents an interesting mix of cities that have consistently provided significant numbers of law firm jobs (e.g., Chicago, New York, D.C.); cities seeing significant growth in both population and law firm opportunities (e.g., Austin, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Orlando, Raleigh); and cities witnessing substantial drops in population and law firm jobs (e.g., Baltimore, Hartford, Philadelphia). Nationwide figures are provided as a benchmark.

A closer look at the chart reveals that:

  • Among cities that historically supply a large number of law firm jobs to new graduates, Atlanta has seen the most dramatic increase in employment opportunities at 52%, followed by Washington, D.C., at 41%, and Boston and Dallas/Ft. Worth at approximately 33% each. Interestingly, Boston and Washington, D.C., have seen the number of employment opportunities increase even as their respective populations have held steady or decreased. The opposite is true in Los Angeles and San Francisco where the law firm entry-level job market has contracted in the face of modestly increasing populations.

  • Other cities — Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, for example — are losing population but have seen consistent growth in the number of opportunities for new law graduates.

  • With the number of law firm jobs more than doubling in the past eleven years, Salt Lake City, Palo Alto, and Orlando lead the way in law firm job growth.

  • Population growth in cities such as Phoenix and San Antonio has not been accompanied by consistent job growth. Other growing cities such as Charlotte, Las Vegas, Raleigh, and Salt Lake City, while not offering large numbers of jobs, nonetheless are offering far more jobs than were available in 1991.

  • Sunbelt cities have experienced varying levels of population growth, but Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa have all witnessed notable growth in law firm opportunities.

  • Cities with "see-sawing" law firm employment markets over this time period include Detroit, which overall had more law firm opportunities in 2002 than in 1991 but not as many as seen in the mid-1990s. Boston and New York, which each saw more jobs in 2002 than in 1991, witnessed a drop-off from the late 1990s. Other cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Hartford never regained the number of job opportunities seen in 1991.

  • Several cities — Atlanta, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Salt Lake City, to name a few — appear to have defied the economic downturns of both the early 1990s and today by consistently and significantly growing the number of law firm opportunities from 1991-2002.

Law Firm Job Opportunities, 1991-2002


NUMBER OF JOBS: PERCENT CHANGE: Population Change, 1990-2002
1991 1995 1999 2002 1991-1995 1995-2002 1991-2002
Atlanta 289 344 396 440 19.0 27.9 52.2 7.9
Austin 63 92 136 118 46.0 28.3 87.3 35.9
Baltimore 134 101 109 90 -24.6 -10.9 -32.8 -13.2
Boston 345 355 496 459 2.9 29.3 33.0 2.6
Charlotte 47 49 73 85 4.3 73.5 80.9 36.0
Chicago 756 756 883 975 0.0 29.0 29.0 3.7
Cleveland 106 166 182 181 56.6 9.0 70.8 -7.4
Columbus 90 98 123 128 8.9 30.1 42.2 14.0
Dallas/Ft. Worth 277 322 424 375 16.2 16.5 35.4 22.3
Detroit 57 93 79 77 63.2 -17.2 35.1 -10.0
Ft. Lauderdale 36 53 54 68 47.2 28.3 88.9 6.3
Hartford 93 62 75 64 -33.3 3.2 -31.2 -9.3
Houston 374 399 427 463 6.7 16.0 23.8 18.4
Indianapolis 107 119 133 117 11.2 -1.7 9.3 7.1
Jacksonville, FL 30 41 56 78 36.7 90.2 160.0 20.1
Kansas City, MO 100 120 129 108 20.0 -10.0 8.0 1.9
Las Vegas 42 51 71 101 21.4 98.0 140.5 95.7
Los Angeles 797 590 700 724 -26.0 22.7 -9.2 9.0
Miami 139 198 212 224 42.4 13.1 61.2 4.2
Minneapolis/St. Paul 216 215 204 206 0.0 -4.2 -4.6 3.0
New York City 1,512 1,491 2,035 1,783 -1.4 19.6 17.9 10.4
New Haven 28 16 26 15 -42.9 -6.3 -46.4 -4.6
Orlando* 38 57 73 134 50.0 135.1 252.6 18.5
Palo Alto* 55 83 166 180 50.9 116.9 227.3 3.1
Philadelphia 364 238 327 329 -34.6 38.2 -9.6 -5.9
Phoenix 128 110 135 103 -14.1 -6.4 -19.5 38.7
Pittsburgh 149 155 184 203 4.0 31.0 36.2 -11.4
Portland, OR 87 69 108 98 -20.7 42.0 12.6 11.0
Raleigh 46 40 44 63 -13.0 57.5 37.0 39.3
Sacramento 75 72 83 108 -4.0 50.0 44.0 10.2
Salt Lake City 24 69 70 90 187.5 30.4 275.0 13.3
San Francisco 381 225 387 362 -40.9 60.9 -5.0 5.5
San Antonio 39 101 84 23 159.0 -77.2 -41.0 19.7
San Diego 208 187 165 216 -10.1 15.5 3.8 13.4
Seattle 155 119 170 177 -23.2 48.7 14.2 10.5
St. Louis 161 167 180 194 3.7 16.2 20.5 -14.7
Tampa 60 63 72 111 5.0 76.2 85.0 12.2
W. Palm Beach* 27 30 34 33 11.1 10.0 22.2 29.4
Washington, DC 688 627 875 969 -8.9 54.5 40.8 -5.9
Nationwide 15,681 15,759 17,652 18,259 0.5 15.9 16.4 16.0

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; U.S. Census Bureau, Table SUB-EST 2002-01 — Population Estimates for Incorporated Places over 100,000, Ranked by July 1, 2002 Population: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2002; Release date: July 10, 2003.

* Figures for Orlando, Palo Alto and West Palm Beach are obtained from comparable tables for places of 10,000 or more.

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