For recent law graduates, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news: the national median salary for the class of 2020 reached an all-time high of $75,000, up more than three percent from the prior year. The median salary for 2020 grads who took jobs in law firms was $130,000.
The bad news: the employment rate for new lawyers dropped by nearly two percentage points.
That’s according to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), which says salary numbers are finally approaching those prior to the 2008-2009 recession after more than a decade of stagnant or declining pay for new grads.
Keep reading for some of the key takeaways from the NALP survey.
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National Association of Law Placement: New Law Grad Pay
Here are some excerpts from the NALP report:
- Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, employment and salary outcomes remained strong for the Class of 2020.
- The overall employment rate for the Class of 2020 fell by nearly two percentage points, to 88.4 percent of graduates for whom employment status was known, compared with 90.3 percent for the Class of 2019.
- The percentage of graduates taking jobs for which bar passage is required or anticipated declined by 1.6 percentage points, from 76.2 percent in 2019 to 74.6 percent in 2020; however, the figure remains above the rates observed in the prior ten class years through 2018.
- Close to 57 percent of employed graduates got jobs in private practice, an increase of 1.6 percentage points and the highest percentage since 2003.
- The national median salary for the Class of 2020 grew to an all-time high of $75,000, up 3.4 percent compared to the Class of 2019.
- The national median law firm salary for the Class of 2020 was $130,000, up 4 percent and reaching the high-water mark set by the Class of 2009.
- The share of law firm jobs in the smallest firms (1-10 lawyers) and the largest firms (more than 500 lawyers) both rose. The percentage of jobs in the former category grew to 32.8 percent of all law firm jobs, while the latter category jumped to 30 percent.
- Public service jobs, including military and other government jobs, judicial clerkships, and public interest positions, accounted for 31 percent of jobs, down one percentage point from 2019. Public interest organizations, including public defenders, accounted for 8.7 percent of those jobs, up from 8 percent in 2019.
- Of employed graduates from the Class of 2020, 11.5 percent were looking for a different job, about the same as the prior year.
- The largest law firms have added more than 2,200 jobs over the past nine years.
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