Practicing Law‎ > ‎

Finding law jobs

Research your employment prospects

Accredited law schools are required to submit employment data to the ABA, which provides school-by-school reports accessible to the general public. Study them carefully and compare the data on a school-by-school basis. This will give you a sense of what kind of career outcomes graduates from each school might expect.

Don’t let information about the “average salary” for new lawyers mislead you. The median salary doesn’t tell the whole story, which is much more complex. Salaries for lawyers vary widely, depending on the type of practice and region. Few people actually earn anywhere near the $70,000 median. Instead, salaries for new lawyers are “bimodal” - they fall into two broad categories: the $160,000 earned by first-year associates at big law firms (about 20% of new lawyers), and the $40,000-to-$65,000 salary range for lawyers at smaller law firms and public sector jobs (the other 80%).

Recent employment outcomes for the Class of 2017 suggest an entry-level legal employment market that is improving, but only modestly. In 2017, the employment rate for new law school grads rose by almost one percentage point from 2016 (88.6% and 71.8% bar passage required). However, the graduating class also declined for the fourth consecutive year, which offset the falling number of available jobs. In other words, while there were fewer law school grads seeking jobs, there were also fewer jobs overall. Notably the bar passage required employment rate increase by four percentage points from 2016 (67.7%). Another trend in legal employment is that while the demand for lawyers is down, so is the salary.  The median starting salary for all jobs taken by 2017 law school graduates is has increased by 7.7% from 2016 (from $65,000 to $70,000), which is almost near 2009 median starting salaries ($72,000). "The overall employment rate has improved because of two intertwined factors. First, and most importantly, the smaller graduating class has meant that there is less competition for the jobs that exist. Second, large law firm hiring has increased steadily since 2011, adding more than 1,750 jobs in six years. The damper on the overall job growth is that the number of jobs secured in virtually every other sector" (James Leipold, Executive Director, NALP).