Law School Employment Profiles — Class of 1999

Employment data for the Class of 1999 indicate that small firms of 2-25 attorneys continue to be the biggest source of jobs for law school graduates, providing about 6,800 jobs. The largest firms of 251 or more attorneys, by comparison, provided just over 4,000 jobs. This means that 21% of all employed graduates from the Class of 1999 found employment in firms of 2-25 attorneys, while just under 13% found employment in the largest firms. Underlying these averages, which are based on counts of graduates, are 173 law schools, each of which has its own profile with respect to graduate employment. Taken together, these 173 profiles provide a different look at graduate employment.

Table 1 shows, for five law firm size categories, the range of percentages of employed graduates in that category, based on 173 schools, as well as the median percentage and the middle range. This table shows that, for example, for all 173 schools the median percentage of graduates taking jobs in firms of 2-25 was 24.5%, but that these percentages ranged from 0.2% to 57.1%. Likewise, the median percentage of jobs in firms of 251 or more attorneys was 5.1%, but ranged from 0 to 53.6%.

The implications of such differences for median salaries are shown in table 2, which categorizes schools according to whether they fall above or below the median on two measures: the percentage of employed graduates taking jobs in firms of 2-25 or going solo, and the percentage of employed graduates taking jobs in firms of 101 or more attorneys. Most schools fall into the top half on one measure and the bottom half of the other measure. Thus, the median salary for the 68 schools in the upper lefthand comer (schools where 26.6% or more of employed graduates take jobs in firms of 1-25 and 10.4% or less take jobs in firms of 101 or more attorneys) is $40,000. In contrast the median for schools in the lower righthand comer, the other end of the spectrum, is $65,000. Schools falling in the other quadrants may be characterized as having relatively large numbers of graduates taking public service jobs, or as having many graduates go to small firms, while at the same time a sizable minority go into larger firms.

Table 1. Distribution of Schools on Law Firm Employment Measures — Class of 1999

% of Employed Graduates Median % Ranged From:
In the top quarter In the bottom quarter
Starting own practice 1.2% 2.6 - 15.1 0.0 - 0.2%
Taking jobs in firms of 2-25 24.5 32.3 - 57.1 0.2 - 15.0
Taking jobs in firms of 26-100 7.5 9.7 - 24.2 0.0 - 5.3
Taking jobs in firms of 101-250 5.0 7.9 - 21.4 0.0 - 2.3
Taking jobs in firms of 251+ 5.1 12.5 - 53.6 0.0 - 1.7
Note: Figures reflect ranking 173 law schools on each of these measures.

Table 2. Median Starting Salary by Characteristics of Graduate Employment —
Class of 1999


% of Grads in Firms of 101+
Bottom Half
(% is 10.4 or less)
Top Half
(% is greater than 10.4)
% of Grads in Firms of 1-25 Top Half
(% is 25.6% or more)
68 schools

Median: $40,000
Half of all salaries fell in the range: $34,000-$51,000

17 schools

Median: $47,000
Half of all salaries feel in the range: $37,000-$70,000

Bottom Half
(% is less than 26.6%)
19 schools

Median: $40,000
Half of all salaries fell in the range: $35,000-$60,000

69 schools

Median: $65,000
Half of all salaries fell in the range: $40,000-$92,000

Note: Percentages are based on all employed graduates.
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