Paul L. Caron

Thursday, August 13, 2020

NALP: Law School Class Of 2019 Attains Highest Employment Rate (90.3%) In 12 Years As Uncertainty Looms For Class Of 2020

NALP, Class of 2019 Attains Highest Employment Rate in 12 Years as Uncertainty Looms for Class of 2020:

NALP 2The National Association for Law Placement, Inc. (NALP) today released its Employment for the Class of 2019 — Selected Findings, a synopsis of key findings from the upcoming annual Jobs & JDs: Employment and Salaries of New Law School Graduates. The release of the full Jobs & JDs report is anticipated in October 2020. This year’s Selected Findings show that the Class of 2019 experienced the highest employment rate in the dozen years since the start of the Great Recession, as the overall employment rate for the Class of 2019 was up 0.9 percentage points to 90.3% of graduates for whom employment status was known, compared to 89.4% for the Class of 2018. This marks the highest employment rate recorded since the 91.9% rate for the Class of 2007.

“The good news is that employment outcomes and salary findings for members of the Class of 2019 are among the strongest ever measured and set several new highwater marks,” noted James G. Leipold, NALP’s Executive Director. “The bad news is that they are not likely to be predictive of the employment outcomes for the next several classes, as the recession and other changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to provide a much more challenging job market for some years to come.”

Selected Findings — Other Highlights:

• The percentage of graduates taking jobs for which bar passage is required or anticipated grew by 3.4 percentage points, increasing from 72.8% in 2018 to 76.2% in 2019, following a one percentage point increase in the previous year.

• 74.3% of graduates with known employment status were employed in a full-time, long-term bar passage required job.

• Well over half (55.2%) of employed graduates obtained a job in private practice, a slight increase of 0.4 percentage points over the previous year and the closest the percentage has come to the 55.9% figure for 2009 since then.

• 96.3% of jobs were full-time positions. The percentage of jobs reported as part-time has declined for eight years in row, and now accounts for just 3.7% of jobs, compared with 4.5% for 2018. Less than two percent (1.5%) of jobs were both temporary (defined as lasting less than a year) and part-time, compared with 1.9% for 2018.

• 30.2% of law firm jobs were in firms of more than 500 lawyers.


• The national median salary for the Class of 2019 based on these reported salaries was $72,500, up 3.6% compared to the Class of 2018, and finally surpassed the previous all-time high of $72,000 for the Classes of 2008 and 2009.

• The national mean salary for the Class of 2019 was $100,540, up 2.4% when compared to $98,150 for the Class of 2018.

• The national median law firm salary for Class of 2019 graduates was $125,000, up 4.2% over the previous year. Additionally, 35.0% of all law firm salaries were reported as $190,000.

• Employment in business declined to 11.3%, down from 12.9% in 2019 and now stands at its lowest percentage since the Class of 2002. Business has dropped from being the second most popular employment sector for new law graduates in recent year to the fourth most frequently reported sector for the Class of 2019.

• Of employed graduates from the Class of 2019, 11.3% were seeking a different job, the lowest this figure has been since 2001 when it was also 11.3%. This figure has fallen in each year since the record high of 24.6% recorded for the Class of 2011.

• The percentage of jobs that are solo practice was at a historic low of 1.5% of all law firm jobs and 0.8% of all jobs.

• The total number of public interest jobs, which includes jobs as public defenders and in legal services offices, remains higher than it was prior to 2009, in no small part because of the presence of law school funded jobs in this sector, which accounted for 10.4% of all public interest jobs taken by the Class of 2019.

Karen Sloan (, New Lawyer Salaries Crept Up in 2019, but COVID-19 Is Likely to Stymie More Increases

Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


What is the response rate? Are any of these changes statistically significant? Twice, the synopsis uses "significantly" without explaining whether the change is "statistically significant. Neither this summary nor the 9-page synopsis say anything about either metric.

Also, talk about burying the lede: "In very simple terms, the rising employment rate can be explained by the fact that the size of the graduating class has consistently fallen faster over the last six years than has the number of jobs secured."

Posted by: Andy Patterson | Aug 13, 2020 5:13:34 AM

Image at top right show # of graduates at 33,007 for 2019.
Employment rate means nothing without a comparison of the # of graduates in 2007.

Posted by: Earl Wertheimer | Aug 13, 2020 7:05:25 AM

Wow, so law school grads had roughly a 10% unemployment rate (nearly a year after graduation!!) at a time when the national unemployment rate was barely 3%. Awesome job. Did I mention that not even 4 in 10 adults has any sort of college degree?

Oh, and the NALP median starting salary for the Class of 2008 was $72,000, which works out to $85,000 and change in today's dollars, so there is still a lot of ground to recover from the Great Recession. And say, the Department of Labor's salary information, which is based on graduates' tax returns and not cherrypicked surveys and therefore much, much more accurate, says that the median starting salary for lawyers is about $53,000, not $72,000. Why the discrepancy, NALP?

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 13, 2020 8:05:28 AM


To measure employment/unemployment, NALP asks whether a graduate was employed on March 15th. The government via BLS asks whether someone worked an hour for pay in the past week. Very different questions! So your comparison of unemployment rates is completely off-base.

Posted by: Clarification | Aug 14, 2020 8:33:33 PM


NALP only surveys about 1/2 of law school grads each year, and as they have admitted in the past, the way they go about it results in a median salary that is at least 12% higher than if they surveyed everyone.

The Department of Education's data, on the other hand, comes from everyone's tax returns.

So we have the median NALP salary based on 50% of law school grads, and the median DOE salary based on 100% of law school grads. If you have to ask which one is more accurate... you are really, really bad with, ahem, data.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 18, 2020 11:40:27 AM

And the point remains that nearly a year after graduation in the best of recent economic times, the law school employment outcomes were horrific and the median salary was lower than the median salary of twelve years prior even without accounting for inflation. It's indisputable, and we have several years of much worse outcomes ahead of us. Historical data about the purported outcomes of the Class of 1995 are just completely irrelevant now.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 18, 2020 11:42:47 AM

Clarification: He doesn't care about factual details. He's got his complaints pasted into a word document and posts them ad infinitum. Never provides sources, either.

Posted by: MM | Aug 18, 2020 8:41:31 PM


It's really not my problem if you troll on a website for law and tax professionals but don't have the knowledge to know how to copy and paste my sources into Google to find them all by your lonesome. Basic fact-checking is hard, I know! But maybe some day, if you apply all of your limited faculties to it, you'll be able to find something on the Internet. And of course my interlocutor didn't provide any sources either but you failed to notice that. Man, you are dumb.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Aug 20, 2020 8:48:53 AM