Paul L. Caron

Friday, July 21, 2023

NALP Survey Of Law School Class Of 2019: Job Satisfaction Improves, Debt And Mental Health Worsen

The NALP Foundation and NALP Release Joint Study of U.S. Law School Alumni Employment and Satisfaction for the Class of 2019 (July 19, 2021):

NALPThe NALP Foundation and NALP today released their tenth joint study, Law School Alumni Employment and Satisfaction, for the Class of 2019. This annual study examines recent graduates’ employment status, compensation, and mobility, as well as satisfaction dimensions indicating how well alumni felt their legal education prepared them for practice. 

Class of 2019 Study of Law School Employment & Satisfaction Employment Outcomes Three Years After Graduation: Selected Results:

Dimensions of Satisfaction

Overall job satisfaction levels increased: 47% of Class of 2019 alumni reported being “extremely satisfied” with their current job, rising from 42% of 2018 graduates; 38% were “somewhat satisfied.” [pp. 88-99]

Hybrid schedules and job satisfaction: Graduates working in a hybrid model or completely in the office reported higher average overall job satisfaction than those working 100% remotely. [p .90] ...

Efficacy of law school preparation: Alumni were most satisfied with how well law school prepared them in “ethics and professional responsibility” followed by “litigation/legal skills” such as legal research, analysis, writing, and trial advocacy, but significantly less satisfied with their preparation in “law practice management skills” such as administrative operations, management, and project management. [pp. 105-109] ...

NEW: Professional Identity Formation

NEW: Efficacy of law school preparation: Alumni rated the value of their law school preparation in “lawyer’s obligations to clients and society” and “providing pro bono/community service” the highest, while rating their preparation in “well-being practices” the lowest. [pp. 127-128]

NEW: Law school resources: Overwhelmingly, alumni cited clinical/experiential courses (70%) as the top resources for advancing their professional identities while in school, while only 17% rated Student Affairs programs/resources as such. [pp. 129-130] ...

Financing Legal Education - The View Three Years After Graduation

Educational debt increased: While average educational debt was $105,546 and the median was $90,000, debt loads ranged widely, from zero to $530,000. The vast majority (87%) of graduates’ total educational debt was attributable to law school (up from 83% for the Class of 2018). Although just over one quarter (28%) reported no remaining educational debt, a sizeable number (43%) reported a debt load of more than $100,000 three years out of law school. [pp. 142-146]

Debt load deviated by cohort: White/Caucasian alumni, judicial clerks, and graduates of the top 21-50 law schools reported the lowest average amount of outstanding debt. [pp. 142-146]

Profound impact: Graduates reported their debt level influenced job and life choices, including delaying purchase of a home, deciding where to live, when to have children, and what sector to work in. [p. 149]

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

Mental health and well-being: Troublingly, 39% of graduates reported the continuing pandemic affected their mental health and well-being, an increase from 31% reported by the Class of 2018. Notably, the pandemic affected women’s mental health and well-being at higher rates than their peers. [p. 151-155]

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