Graduate Demographics and Employer Settings Over Time — A Different Perspective

NALP Bulletin, December 2018

It should not be surprising that the demographic composition of graduates taking certain kinds of jobs or jobs in certain sectors diverges from the demographic makeup of employed graduates as a whole. But the divergence is especially stark in some instances. For example, compared to their representation among employed graduates as a whole, white males take legal services jobs at about half that rate. For the Class of 2017, the respective figures were 38% and 19%. Figures going back to 2002 show roughly the same proportions.

Conversely, white males are over-represented among graduates taking JAGC positions, by 14-15 percentage points from 2002 to 2012, but jumping to 35 percentage points for 2017. Nearly three-quarters of JAGC jobs taken by the class of 2017 were taken by white males.

These are among the findings gleaned from viewing employer or job types from this perspective, that is comparing the demographic composition for specific job or employment settings, rather than comparing employment settings for various demographic groups, e.g., for men compared with women, as is presented in the Jobs & JDs reports.

The table below shows the demographic composition of graduates taking selected kinds of jobs over the past 15 years. Other findings include:

  • Black/African-American graduates are more likely to take public defender jobs than their overall representation among employed graduates. This is evident in all four years shown in the table.
  • Women, notably non-white women, generally take legal services jobs at twice or three times their overall representation.
  • The proportion of jobs taken in large firms by Asian graduates has consistently exceeded their representation as a whole, and both have grown.
  • In contrast, the presence of Black/African-American males among all employed graduates has really not changed much and their presence in large firms has largely matched their overall presence.
  • Whereas white women have generally maintained their proportionate share of jobs in small firms, white males have not, with some of the difference being made up by Hispanic graduates.

For a similar analysis on for judicial clerkships, see the October 2017 NALP Bulletin article A Demographic Profile of Judicial Clerks — 2006 to 2016.

  Percent of Jobs in Each Sector or Job Type Obtained by:
White Men White Women Black/African-American Men Black/African-American Women Asian Pacific Islander Men Asian Pacific Islander Women Hispanic Men Hispanic Women
Class of 2002
Firms of 1-10 46.7% 37.9% 1.3% 2.9% 2.1% 2.7% 2.5% 2.7%
Firms of 251+ 43.4 36.5 2.3 3.7 3.6 5.4 2.1 2.1
Military JAGC 55.0 26.9 1.8 5.0 3.2 1.5 3.8 1.2
Local prosecutors/DA’s 42.6 35.8 3.5 4.8 1.7 3.2 3.1 4.0
Public defenders 37.8 36.1 4.1 6.7 1.9 2.6 3.6 4.8
Legal Services 19.3 50.6 2.8 5.3 2.0 8.4 2.5 7.3
All employed graduates 44.0 37.3 2.3 4.1 2.6 3.6 2.3 2.6
Class of 2007
Firms of 1-10 45.9% 36.1% 1.4% 2.5% 2.9% 3.5% 2.9% 3.2%
Firms of 251+ 40.2 32.5 2.7 4.9 5.8 6.8 2.6 2.9
Military JAGC 58.3 23.8 3.6 2.6 3.6 2.3 3.9 0.0
Local prosecutors/DA’s 41.7 38.8 2.4 4.4 2.6 4.4 2.4 2.0
Public defenders 39.5 35.1 3.3 6.8 2.0 3.5 3.7 4.7
Legal Services 18.7 48.2 1.6 7.9 3.6 9.3 1.7 7.1
All employed graduates 42.7 35.2 2.5 4.4 3.8 4.6 2.6 2.8
Class of 2012
Firms of 1-10 45.3% 35.2% 1.3% 2.3% 2.8% 3.8% 3.4% 3.7%
Firms of 251+ 40.4 31.8 2.6 3.5 6.0 8.8 2.7 2.9
Military JAGC 59.9 19.3 1.6 1.6 4.2 3.7 3.1 1.0
Local prosecutors/DA’s 43.1 37.6 3.0 3.0 1.9 2.7 3.3 3.7
Public defenders 38.5 36.9 3.0 5.9 2.0 3.0 2.6 4.7
Legal Services 24.2 41.3 1.9 7.2 3.2 5.8 3.8 9.3
All employed graduates 43.1 34.2 2.4 4.0 3.5 4.4 2.9 3.2
Class of 2017
Firms of 1-10 40.0 33.6 1.6 3.2 2.8 3.8 5.4 6.4
Firms of 251+ 35.1 32.1 2.9 4.3 6.5 8.7 3.4 3.9
Military JAGC 72.7 27.3 3.0 3.0 6.4 1.3 3.4 3.4
Local prosecutors/DA’s 33.9 37.0 3.2 3.8 2.6 3.0 5.2 7.0
Public defenders 32.7 35.7 3.3 7.4 3.5 3.2 3.2 5.8
Legal Services 19.2 35.9 2.6 9.2 2.8 6.3 6.6 13.6
All employed graduates 37.9 32.8 2.8 5.0 3.9 5.0 4.1 5.1

Note: Firms of 1-10 attorney, 251+ attorneys, and legal services organizations are employment settings, and include all types of jobs within those settings; military JAGC , local prosecutors, and public defenders are specific job types. Military JAGC positions were not tracked specifically in 2002 and 2007. The figures for 2002 and 2007 are based on US military jobs also reported as bar passage required/anticipated.
Percentages for a given employment setting or job type do not add to 100 because not all racial groups are shown. Figures based on graduates for whom the appropriate demographics were reported.

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

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