Report highlights disparities in outcomes by race, 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.

The report, entitled Jobs & JDs, Employment and Salaries of New Graduates, Class of 2019, is available at

Jobs & JDs is NALP’s annual research report that presents a comprehensive analysis of the types of employment and salaries obtained by the Class of 2019.

The data comes from more than 97 percent of Class of 2019 graduates from  ABA-accredited law schools, according to NALP.

The report shows that the Class of 2019 experienced the highest employment rate in the dozen years since the start of the Great Recession, up almost one percentage point to 90.3 percent of graduates for whom employment status was known, compared to 89.4 percent for the Class of 2018.

This marks the highest employment rate recorded since the 91.9 percent 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,” said NALP Executive Director James Leipold, “but this should serve as a wake-up call to everyone involved in legal education and the legal profession.

“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 percent, 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 percent vs. 8 percent). 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 percent, respectively), while Native American or Alaska Native and Black or African American graduates had the lowest employment rates (85.5 and 85.4 percent, respectively).

White/Caucasian graduates had the highest rate of employment in bar passage required/anticipated jobs at 79.8 percent while the rate was 17 percentage points lower for Black or African American graduates at 62.4 percent. 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 percent) 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 percen.).

Graduates with disabilities had a lower overall employment rate (84.9 percent), as well as a lower percentage of graduates employed in bar passage required/anticipated jobs, at 64.1 percent.

The national median salary for the Class of 2019 based on these reported salaries was $72,500, up 3.6 percent 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 median law firm salary for Class of 2019 graduates was $125,000, up just over four percent over the previous year. Additionally, 35 percent of all law firm salaries were reported as $190,000.

The national mean salary for the Class of 2019 was $100,540 compared with $98,150 for the prior year.


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