Law Firm Job Opportunities and Population Changes, 1995-2005

NALP Bulletin, September 2006

NALP periodically compiles information on law firm job opportunities compared with changes in population in a variety of cities across the country. The table below provides a look at job opportunities, as reported in NALP’s Employment Report and Salary Survey (ERSS), and changes in population between 1995 and 2005. The table includes a mix of cities: those that have consistently been the largest centers of law firm jobs (e.g., New York and Los Angeles); those experiencing growth in both population and law firm opportunities or that have been suggested as job growth centers in general (e.g., Austin and Charlotte); and those experiencing declines on both measures. Nationwide figures provide a benchmark.

The highlights that follow point out only a few of the contrasts and are by no means exhaustive.

  • Among the ten cities that historically supply a large number of law firm jobs to new graduates, all offered more jobs in 2005 than in 1995. Cities such as Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, have seen this growth even as their population has experienced minimal growth or even contracted somewhat. Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York have experienced both job and population growth. It is interesting to note that, in a number of these ten cities, job growth between 2000 and 2005 was minimal, or even negative, but not by enough to offset the gains of the late nineties.
  • Other cities, such as Birmingham, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Hartford, Jackson, MS, and Pittsburgh are losing population but experienced a net growth of jobs from 1995-2005, though not in all cases in both five-year periods. Some cities, such as Baltimore, Detroit, and Milwaukee are losing both population and entry-level job opportunities.
  • In percentage terms, job growth has been the greatest in Irvine, CA, and Wilmington, DE. However, the number of jobs to start with was relatively small.
  • Sunbelt cities have experienced varying degrees of population growth, but Charlotte, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa have all experienced notable growth in law firm opportunities.
  • For many cities, job growth from 2000-2005 lagged considerably behind the pace of growth from 1995-2000, even for cities experiencing net growth over the full ten-year period. Austin, Boston, and Palo Alto are examples.
  • Finally, cities vary a great deal on how many jobs are available relative to their population, and on how this measure has changed. For example, Palo Alto and Washington, DC, offered the most jobs relative to the population in both 1995 and 2005, with populations of less than 1,000 per job. Wilmington achieved this with the class of 2005. Jacksonville and Detroit offered the fewest jobs compared with the population, but the two cities have moved in opposite directions on this measure.


Law Firm Opportunities and Population Change, 1995-2005


NUMBER OF JOBS PERCENT CHANGE: Population
Change
1995-2005
SIZE OF POPULATION PER NEW HIRE:
1995 2000 2005 1995-2000 2000-2005 1995-2005 1995 2005
Atlanta, GA 344 397 395 15.4% -0.5% 14.8% 17.5% 1,165 1,192
Austin, TX 92 140 112 52.2 -20.0 21.7 24.3 6,034 6,163
Baltimore, MD 101 92 90 -8.9 -2.2 -10.9 -7.5 6,805 7,065
Birmingham, AL 99 100 119 1.0 19.0 20.2 -8.3 2,549 1,945
Boston, MA 355 514 432 44.8 -16.0 21.7 0.1 1,573 1,294
Charlotte, NC 49 81 95 65.3 17.3 93.9 29.1 9,660 6,431
Chicago, IL 756 808 1,018 6.9 26.0 34.7 1.5 3,706 2,792
Cincinnati, OH 62 102 104 64.5 2.0 67.7 -11.2 5,611 2,969
Cleveland, OH 166 212 189 27.7 -10.8 13.9 -9.8 3,019 2,393
Columbus, OH 98 116 147 18.4 26.7 50.0 10.6 6,744 4,970
Dallas, TX 293 337 340 15.0 0.9 16.0 16.7 3,551 3,570
Detroit, MI 93 77 70 -17.2 -9.1 -24.7 -11.7 10,792 12,667
Hartford, CT 62 76 67 22.6 -11.8 8.1 -5.3 2,118 1,857
Houston, TX 399 378 538 -5.3 42.3 34.8 13.3 4,459 3,748
Indianapolis, IN 119 124 148 4.2 19.4 24.4 5.1 6,270 5,298
Irvine, CA 27 42 104 55.6 147.6 285.2 50.0 4,614 1,797
Jackson, MS 46 68 76 47.8 11.8 65.2 -5.5 4,093 2,342
Jacksonville, FL 41 64 76 56.1 18.8 85.4 18.0 16,180 10,298
Kansas City, MO 120 131 153 9.2 16.8 27.5 3.6 3,620 2,941
Los Angeles, CA 590 697 676 18.1 -3.0 14.6 8.8 5,990 5,688
Memphis, TN 49 71 74 44.9 4.2 51.0 8.5 12,645 9,085
Miami, FL 198 208 236 5.1 13.5 19.2 5.7 1,846 1,637
Milwaukee, WI 103 107 93 3.9 -13.1 -9.7 -3.4 5,821 6,225
Minneapolis, MN 179 195 185 8.9 -5.1 3.4 3.3 2,016 2,015
New York, NY 1,491 1,893 2,255 27.0 19.1 51.2 10.8 4,929 3,611
Omaha, NE 45 57 68 26.7 19.3 51.1 10.9 8,306 6,096
Orlando, FL 57 72 93 26.3 29.2 63.2 24.5 3,005 2,293
Palo Alto, CA 83 233 109 180.7 -53.2 31.3 -0.6 690 523
Philadelphia, PA 238 325 342 36.6 5.2 43.7 -2.2 6,287 4,279
Phoenix, AZ 110 117 163 6.4 39.3 48.2 28.8 10,314 8,967
Pittsburgh, PA 155 182 179 17.4 -1.6 15.5 -10.5 2,282 1,769
Portland, OR 69 130 115 88.4 -11.5 66.7 7.0 7,223 4,638
Richmond, VA 78 70 68 -10.3 -2.9 -12.8 0.9 2,462 2,850
Sacramento, CA 72 93 134 29.2 44.1 86.1 14.5 5,538 3,406
Salt Lake City, UT 69 73 94 5.8 28.8 36.2 6.5 2,423 1,895
San Diego, CA 187 213 301 13.9 41.3 61.0 7.8 6,229 4,171
San Francisco, CA 225 366 398 62.7 8.7 76.9 1.2 3,247 1,858
Seattle, WA 119 156 193 31.1 23.7 62.2 8.2 4,457 2,974
Tampa,FL 63 87 107 38.1 23.0 69.8 14.6 4,517 3,047
Washington, DC 627 945 880 50.7 -6.9 40.4 -0.1 879 626
Wilmington, DE 32 67 85 109.4 26.9 165.6 1.2 2,248 856
Nationwide 15,759 18,008 19,600 14.3 8.8 24.4 11.3 16,897 15,123
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