According to the data, the groups were, respectively, employed in “bar passage required jobs” 15 and 23 percentage points below their white counterparts with respect to the 2021 class. Further, Black, Native American, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders measured in the study were the least likely graduates to be employed by a private practice. These new statistics are delineated in the NALP’s Jobs & JDs, Employment and Salaries of New Graduates, Class of 2021 publication. The annual research report features data from approximately 97% of the 2021 class coming out of American Bar Association-accredited law schools, notes the organization.
“We continue to see that race, gender, and the level of parental education have profound effects on employment and salary outcomes after law school graduation, and we do not see those gaps closing over time,” said James G. Leipold, the NALP’s executive director, in a statement. The report also adds there are measurable employment disparities between graduates who did not have a parent or guardian who obtained at least a bachelor’s degree and those who had at least one parent or guardian who obtained a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. As such, the employment rate for “continuing-generation JD students” was 10 percentage points higher than students with parents or guardians without a bachelor’s degree. They were also more likely to find work in private practice and receive judicial clerkships than first-generation students.
“It’s troubling to me, and it ought to be troubling to the entire profession that Black, Native American, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander graduates continue to fare worse in the job market than their peers from any other groups, with large and persistent gaps in entry-level employment in private practice and in bar passage required work,” Leipold said. “Similar disparities for first-generation college students suggest that multiple factors are at work in producing these disparities.”
Leipold said he believes it is incumbent on the entire legal profession, from law schools all the way to legal employers, to work toward closing these employment gaps.
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Overall, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated earlier this month that legal service jobs dropped by approximately 5,000 positions in September despite a general uptick in professional and business services jobs.
Other highlights from the NALP report include:
- White graduates were employed at the highest rate of any measured racial or ethnic category at 93.1%;
- Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander graduates had the lowest rate at 81.1%;
- Black/African American graduates, along with Native American or Alaska Native graduates clocked in at 88.6%;
- The median starting salaries of employed graduates as broken out by race/ethnicity spanned from $70,000 for Native American or Alaska graduates up to $125,000 for Asian graduates;
- At 92.4%, women had a higher employment rate than men, but men did better with respect to median salary by $5,000 per year.