August 14, 2008
Highest Employment Rate in 20 Years: NALP's Placement Data for Class of 2007 Now Available
91.9% of the Class of 2007 for whom employment status was known were employed as of February 15, 2008 according to NALP. This rate increased for the third year in a row and was at its highest in 20 years. 16% of reported salaries were $160,000, 38% were $55,000 or less. Many more 2007 graduates started work in small firms of 50 or fewer lawyers or in non-firm settings (72% of those employed) than at firms of more than 100 lawyers (just 22% of those employed).
- Of the graduates for whom employment status was known, 76.9% obtained a job for which bar passage is required. An additional 7.7% obtained jobs for which a JD degree is preferred, or may even be required, but for which bar passage is not required.
- Public service employment, including government jobs, judicial clerkships, and public interest positions, accounted for 27.3% of jobs taken by employed graduates, and compares with 26.9% for the prior year. Jobs with public interest organizations specifically, which includes public defenders, accounted for 5.8% of jobs.
- Compared to the overall median starting salary of $65,750, the law firm private practice median was higher — $108,500, a jump of more than $13,000 over that for the Class of 2006. Medians for jobs in government, public interest organizations, and as judicial clerks, increased modestly, but remained considerably lower, at $50,000, $42,000, and $48,000, respectively. The higher median in private practice notwithstanding, for all full-time salaries reported, salaries of $55,000 were almost as common as salaries of more than $75,000.
- Employment patterns also differ between men and women, with women more frequently taking government, judicial clerkship, and public interest positions. About 31% of employed women took these types of positions, compared to about one-quarter of employed men.
- Older graduates were less likely to go into private practice and more likely to enter academic or business settings. About 43% of employed graduates age 41-45 and 33% of those age 46 or older entered private practice, compared with 60% of employed graduates age 20-25. About 26% of employed graduates age 41-45 and 33% of those 46 or older took jobs in business/industry, rates more than double that of employed graduates age 20-30.
About the Data. 186 ABA-accredited law schools participating in the study provided employment information on 93% of all graduates of the Class of 2007. Of course, this means the data was not audited by an outside firm to weed out the not uncommon law school practice of fudging the data to make their placement report look better than it actually is. For those recent grads who were employed by their schools to game the data and now need to find a real job, check out Ari Kaplan's The Opportunity Maker, Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career Through Creative Networking and Business Development (West, 2008)[Book's website]. [JH]
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