Starting with the law school Class of 2011, a new term of art entered our lexicon — “JD Advantage.” It is a phrase that NALP and the ABA use to describe a category of jobs for which bar passage is not required but for which a JD degree provides a distinct advantage. (Prior to 2011, NALP called these jobs “JD Preferred” jobs; although the definitions of the “JD Preferred” and “JD Advantage” jobs are not identical, the kinds of jobs represented by these two categories are largely the same.) The ABA’s Questionnaire Committee (now the Data Policy and Collection Committee) coined the term “JD Advantage,” and, in collaboration with NALP, arrived at the definition.
The jobs that new law school graduates take can be categorized in many different ways. Traditionally we look at both the type of job and the type of employer, as these two categories taken together provide the most information about the entry-level labor market. Historically, jobs for which bar passage is required make up the largest group of jobs, followed by law-related jobs (these are the JD Advantage jobs) that do not require bar passage.
With the persistently weak entry-level job market for law school graduates that has followed the 2008 recession, interest in jobs that can be categorized as JD Advantage jobs has grown. In fact, the extent to which law school graduates take jobs for which a JD provides an advantage in obtaining the job has been growing steadily since NALP began tracking this kind of job in 2001. For the Class of 2011, 12.5% of graduates for whom employment status was known had obtained such a job, more than double the rate of 6% in 2001. Also, this year for the first time the US News & World Report law school rankings changed their methodology so that jobs that require bar passage and jobs that provide a JD advantage were given more weight than other categories of jobs.
Nearly one in seven jobs taken by the Class of 2011 was reported as a JD Advantage job. In numbers this translates to more than 5,200 jobs. These jobs were most common by far in the business realm, which accounted for 46% of the JD Advantage jobs obtained by the Class of 2011. (See pie charts below.)
What Kinds of Jobs Does the JD Advantage Category Include?
Jobs in this category are those for which the employer sought an individual with a JD, and perhaps even required a JD, or for which the JD provided a demonstrable advantage in obtaining or performing the job, but are jobs that do not require bar passage, an active law license, or involve practicing law. Examples of positions for which a JD is an advantage include a job as a corporate contracts administrator, alternative dispute resolution specialist, government regulatory analyst, FBI agent, and accountant. Also included might be jobs in personnel or human resources, jobs with investment banks, jobs with consulting firms, jobs doing compliance work for business and industry, jobs in law firm professional development, and jobs in law school career services offices, admissions offices, or other law school administrative offices. Doctors or nurses who plan to work in a litigation, insurance, or risk management setting or as expert witnesses could fall into this category, as could journalists and teachers (in a higher education setting) of law and law-related topics.
See also NALP's series of videos of law school graduates who obtained JD Advantage jobs.
Note: The category of jobs for which type (e.g., bar passage required or other) was not specified accounts for 0.6% of jobs but is not shown on the chart.
Note: For clarity, the category for unknown employer type, representing 0.6% of jobs, is not shown.
Table 1. Characteristics of JD Advantage Jobs Taken by the Class of 2011
|% of Jobs That Are
Full-time and Long-term
|# of Jobs|
|All JD Advantage Jobs*||67.3%||5,107|
|By Employment Sector:|
* Figures are based on jobs for which both duration and full-time/part-time information was reported and thus exclude 107 of the JD Advantage jobs reported taken by the Class of 2011. Job counts by sector do not add to the total because employment sector was not reported for some jobs.
Table 2. JD Advantage Jobs — Employer Detail
Class of 2011 — As of February 15, 2012
|Employer Setting or Job Type||% of JD Advantage Jobs|
|Law School Research Assistant or Fellow||4.7|
|Legal temp agency||4.2|
|Management consulting firm||3.4|
|Other business settings not specifically tracked||19.7|
|Federal executive/administrative agencies*||4.0|
|State executive/administrative agencies*||3.2|
|State legislative positions||1.4|
|Local executive/administrative agencies*||1.9|
|Private Practice Law Firms||18.6|
|Public Interest Organizations||10.1|
*Includes jobs categorized as 'other', i.e., not specifically reported as legislative, with the military, the court system, an honors program, or as prosecutors.
Table 3. To What Extent are JD Advantage Jobs Funded by
the Law School or an Outside Grant?
|Employer Setting||% of JD Advantage Jobs Funded by Law School||% of JD Advantage Jobs Funded by Outside Grant|
|Private Practice Law Firms||0.3||1.2|
Table 4. Salaries for JD Advantage Jobs
|Employment Setting or Job||25th percentile||Median||75th percentile||Average||# of salaries reported|
|College or university administration||41,000||53,500||70,000||63,588||36|
|Law school research assistant or fellow||40,000||45,000||49,000||43,009||21|
|Legal temp agency||42,500||46,270||52,000||46,605||20|
|Federal government executive agency*||51,935||62,483||87,000||70,556||128|
|State government executive agency*||40,000||50,000||60,000||50,075||58|
|State government legislative position||40,000||44,000||58,710||48,769||33|
|Local government executive agency*||28,000||47,019||55,000||46,723||42|
|Private Practice Law Firms||32,000||40,000||52,000||45,794||198|
|Public Interest Organizations||40,000||48,000||60,000||50,961||124|
*Includes JD Advantage jobs categorized as "other," i.e., not specifically reported as legislative, with the military, the court system, an honors program, or as prosecutors.
Note: All salary figures are based on full-time jobs lasting at least a year.
Table 5. JD Advantage Jobs and Demographics
|Demographic Group||% of jobs taken by this group which are JD advantage jobs|
|Age 30 or younger||13.8|
Table 6. Funding for JD Advantage Jobs — By Demographics
|Demographic Group||% of JD Advantage Jobs Funded by Law School for this Group||% of JD Advantage Jobs Funded by Outside Grant for this Group|
|Age 30 or younger at graduation||8.5||1.1|
|Age 31+ at graduation||6.2||1.5|
Note: All figures are based on graduates for whom the appropriate demographic information was reported. *Refers to race/ethnicity and includes all graduates who reported a race other than White/Caucasian.