Race/Ethnicity and the Geographic Distribution of Law Firm Jobs Taken by the Class of 2012

NALP Bulletin, September 2013

Among law school graduates taking jobs in private practice, minorities are more likely than their non-minority peers to take that job in one of the 20 largest employment markets for new graduates. As Table 1 shows, of law firm jobs taken by the Class of 2012, about 42% were taken in the 20 cities providing the most jobs to that class. However, among racial/ethnic minorities as a whole the figure was over half (52%) compared with 38% among non-minorities.

Looking at specific racial/ethnic groups, Asian/ Pacific Islander graduates are most concentrated in these cities (58% of law firm jobs). In contrast, 61% of the relatively small number of law firm jobs taken by Native American graduates are located outside of these 20 largest cities. It is worth noting that, because of the erosion of large firm jobs since 2008 (the last class for which this analysis was done), the percentage of law firm jobs located in the 20 largest cities for graduate employment has also eroded from nearly half (49%) to just 42% in 2012. This erosion occurred in all demographic groups.

As Table 2 shows, the proportion of jobs taken by minorities in each of the 20 cities ranged from a high of 51% in Miami to 15% or less in Charlotte, Columbus, Denver, Indianapolis, and Seattle. In some cities, one specific group dominates minority graduates. In Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, it is Asian/Pacific Islanders; in Miami it is Hispanics; and in Atlanta, and to a lesser extent Philadelphia, it is Black/African-American graduates. In Dallas and Houston, Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics are more equally prevalent. A relatively equal mix between the three groups is not typical — Columbus comes the closest.


Table 1. Geographic Distribution of Law Firm Jobs Taken by the Class of 2012

Law Firm Jobs Taken by: % in 20 Largest Cities % in Other Locations # of Jobs
All graduates 42.4% 57.6% 19,042
Non-minorities 37.9 62.1 13,683
All minorities 51.8 48.2 3,693
American Indian/Alaska Native 38.7 61.3 75
Asian/Pacific Islanders 57.9 42.1 1,421
Black/African-Americans 53.7 46.3 792
Hispanics 46.4 53.6 1,082
Multi-racial 39.9 60.1 323

Note: All counts exclude law firm jobs for which location was not reported. All counts, except the overall count, exclude jobs taken by graduates for whom race/ethnicity was not reported. The Asian/Pacific Islander category includes Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander graduates.


Table 2. Distribution of Law Firm Jobs by Race/Ethnicity in 20 Cities — Class of 2012

City Native American Asian/Pacific Islander Black/African-American Hispanic Multi-racial Total Minority Caucasian # of Jobs
Atlanta 0.29% 5.43% 17.14% 2.29% 2.00% 27.14% 72.86% 350
Baltimore 1.15 5.75 5.75 2.30 1.15 16.09 83.91 87
Boston 0.00 11.83 3.85 1.78 1.48 18.93 81.07 338
Charlotte 1.08 1.08 6.45 6.45 0.0 15.05 84.95 93
Chicago 0.13 8.14 6.33 4.78 1.29 20.41 79.33 774
Columbus 1.09 3.26 4.35 3.26 1.09 13.04 86.96 92
Dallas 0.71 9.25 4.63 9.25 2.14 25.98 74.02 281
Denver 0.65 7.84 0.0 4.58 0.65 11.76 86.27 153
Houston 0.43 13.79 7.11 13.58 1.08 35.99 64.01 464
Indianapolis 0.0 3.57 5.36 2.68 1.79 12.50 86.61 112
Los Angeles 0.20 16.01 5.53 6.72 2.57 30.83 68.97 506
Miami 0.41 2.47 4.53 39.92 4.12 51.44 48.56 243
Minneapolis/St. Paul 0.55 8.79 4.40 2.75 0.55 16.48 82.97 182
New York City 0.23 15.21 5.35 6.25 1.63 28.62 71.32 1,775
Philadelphia 0.0 4.67 8.41 1.87 1.40 16.36 83.64 214
Phoenix 0.83 7.50 1.67 10.83 0.83 21.67 78.33 120
San Diego 0.94 16.04 0.47 7.55 2.36 26.89 72.64 212
San Francisco 0.63 18.81 2.82 8.78 3.76 34.17 65.20 319
Seattle 1.39 10.42 4.17 0.69 0.0 15.28 83.33 144
Washington, DC 0.78 13.28 9.06 5.00 2.66 30.78 69.22 640

Note: Law firm jobs taken by graduates for whom race/ethnicity was not reported are excluded from this table. The Asian/Pacific Islander category includes Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander graduates.

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