Only half of 2018 US law grads are employed at law firms

NALP study also studied compensation, law school debt and the impact of COVID-19

Only half of 2018 US law grads are employed at law firms

Only half of all US law graduates from the class of 2018 are working in law firms, according to a new report. The American Bar Association (ABA) Journal reported that 97 percent of surveyed law graduates from the class of 2018 were employed, but only 51 percent were working in law firms. The data comes from a joint study by the National Association for Law Placement and the NALP Foundation.

The findings indicate that fourteen percent of surveyed graduates were working in business or corporations, and 13 percent were working in government, reported the Journal. Sixty-seven percent of the graduates had had two or more sequential jobs since graduation.

Forty-two percent of surveyed graduates were extremely satisfied with their current job, while 40 percent were somewhat satisfied. Only 14 percent were actively seeking a new job, which was a historically low rate, the report states.

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The Class of 2018 Study of Law School Employment & Satisfaction report is based on information collected from 1,477 graduates of ABA-accredited law schools in the United States between September and December 2021. It is the NALP and NALP Foundation’s ninth such report focusing on US law schools.

The Journal also noted that 51 percent of the surveyed law grads reported annual compensation greater than $100,000. Forty-six percent reported compensation ranging from $51,000 to $100,000.

Total educational debt ranged from zero to $500,000. Forty percent of the respondents had educational debt of more than $100,000, while 30 percent had no educational debt.

Women and minorities were least likely to have retired their educational debt, as were graduates working in education and as public defenders, reported the Journal. The average debt was higher for alumni of color, at $123,336, than for white law grads, at $85,397.

Thirty-one percent of the surveyed grads said the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis affected their mental health and well-being. Forty-six percent of female graduates reported an impact, a rate “markedly higher” than for male grads, at 31 percent, the Journal notes.

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