An NALP study finds Law School Class of 2010 Starting Pay Fell 20% as Jobs Eroded

Starting salaries for last year’s U.S. law school graduates plummeted 20 percent as private practice jobs eroded, according to a report by the National Association for Law Placement.

The national median starting salary at law firms dropped to $104,000 from $130,000 in 2009, reflecting a shift in the distribution of jobs and salary adjustments at some firms, the NALP said today. The report cited information submitted by 192 laws schools and covering 93 percent of 2010 graduates.

Aggregate starting salaries fell because graduates found fewer jobs with high-paying large law firms and many more jobs with the smallest firms at lower salaries, Leipold said. More than half of the jobs taken by 2010 graduates were in firms with 50 or fewer attorneys. Jobs at firms with more than 250 attorneys fell to 26 percent from 33 percent in 2009.

The employment rate for 2010 law school graduates was 87.6 percent, down from a high of 91.9 percent for the 2007 class, the NALP said. Part-time jobs accounted for 11 percent and almost 27 percent were reported as temporary jobs, according to the survey.

Law School Graduate Scorecard

  • 12.4% No Job
  • 27.0% Temporary Job
  • 11.0% Part Time Job

The total of those groups is a whopping 50.4%. However, some jobs may be temporary and part-time so the correct total is somewhere between 39.4% and 50.4%, probably towards the high side.

Having a law degree is no guarantee of success. All of those groups will struggle to pay back student debt.


Reader Dave writes …

Hello Mish

Actually, it’s far more grim than it looks.

How many new lawyers took a job at their dad’s or mom’s small practice? That is very common. How many hang out a shingle and/or start a small law firm with friends or classmates?

From what I’ve seen, the vast majority who start a practice, close their doors and find a new career in a year or two.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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