Following up on my previous post, NALP: Law School Class Of 2019 Attains Highest Employment Rate (90.3%) In 12 Years:
NALP’s New Employment and Salary Report Highlights Disparities in Outcomes by Race and Ethnicity:
New employment findings from the National Association for Law Placement, Inc. (NALP) show that Black and Native American law school graduates had the lowest overall employment rates, and Black graduates were employed in bar passage required jobs at a rate 17 percentage points lower than white graduates.
NALP today released its Jobs & JDs, Employment and Salaries of New Graduates, Class of 2019. Jobs & JDs is NALP’s hallmark annual research report that presents a comprehensive analysis of the types of employment and salaries obtained by the Class of 2019. How are law firm opportunities changing for new law graduates? Which geographic markets provided the most jobs? Where did the graduates who are not practicing law find jobs? How do employment findings vary by gender and race/ethnicity? Jobs & JDs presents the most comprehensive analysis of the types of employment and salaries obtained by the Class of 2019, with data on over 97% of Class of 2019 graduates from ABA-accredited law schools. The publication includes over 110 detailed tables and charts with data by geography, graduate demographics, and law school characteristics.
This year’s report shows 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.
“I find it particularly discouraging this year to have to report employment findings that highlight stark disparities by race and ethnicity, among other demographic markers, but this should serve as a wake-up call to everyone involved in legal education and the legal profession,” said NALP Executive Director James Leipold. “In a year when the overall class secured jobs and salaries at higher rates than we have seen since before the Great Recession, many subsets of graduates, but especially Black law school graduates, still meet with lower levels of success in the job market than the rest of the graduate pool.”
- By gender, women had the highest employment rate (90.6%), but men had a higher median salary ($75,000) than both women ($70,000) and non-binary graduates ($67,500).
- Employed non-binary graduates were almost four times as likely to take a job in public interest than employed graduates overall (30.8% vs. 8.0%).
- Disparities in employment outcomes by race/ethnicity were evident. Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander graduates and white/Caucasian graduates had the highest employment rates (92.9% and 92.1%, respectively), while Native American or Alaska Native and Black or African American graduates had the lowest employment rates (85.5% and 85.4%, respectively). White/Caucasian graduates had the highest rate of employment in bar passage required/anticipated jobs (79.8%), while the rate was 17 percentage points lower for Black or African American graduates (62.4%).
- Median starting salaries for employed graduates by race/ethnicity ranged from about $62,000 for Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander graduates to $125,000 for Asian graduates. The higher median salary for Asian graduates can be at least partially attributed to greater levels of employment in private practice.
- Graduates who were transfer students also reported higher rates of employment in private practice (61.5%) and had a higher median starting salary ($85,000) than graduates overall.
- Employed graduates identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual were almost twice as likely to be employed in public interest positions than graduates overall (15.7% vs. 8.0%).
- Graduates with disabilities had a lower overall employment rate (84.9%), as well as a lower percentage of graduates employed in bar passage required/anticipated jobs (64.1%).
Karen Sloan (Law.com), New Data on Racial Disparities in Lawyer Hiring Is 'Wake-Up Call' for the Profession
“When I look at these numbers, it is hard for me not to conclude that we have prioritized outcomes for white people over Black people in the legal profession, that whether explicitly or implicitly, whether deliberately or inadvertently, there has been systemic preference and advantage for white law school graduates over Black law school graduates, and for white lawyers over Black lawyers,” said NALP Executive Director James Leipold. “The legal profession has not sought to exclude Black lives, but the profession has not prioritized Black outcomes, has certainly not prioritized Black outcomes over white outcomes.”
Leipold said that the legal profession’s focus on prestige as an indicator of merit and achievement—that is, the reputation of firms, law schools, and the pedigrees of individual lawyers—is the single biggest factor holding back diversity efforts in legal employment and beyond.
“White-led institutions have been the gatekeepers to the profession, and those institutions have at every turn set up gates that prioritize success for white people,” said Leipold, noting the over-reliance on standardized tests in the law school admissions process, the reliance on rankings throughout the profession, and the disparities in how work is allocated, how lawyers are trained, and how they advance.
Similarly, the legal profession has prioritized outcomes for men over women, Leipold said. ... “I find it particularly discouraging this year to have to report employment findings that highlight stark disparities by race and ethnicity, among other demographic markers, but this should serve as a wake-up call to everyone involved in legal education and the legal profession,” Leipold said.