First-generation college grads find fewer jobs after law school than their peers, new NALP data says

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First-generation college graduates fared less well in the job market after law school than those who had at least one parent with a JD or a college degree, according to new data from the National Association for Law Placement.

First-generation college students from the class of 2020 had an overall employment rate of 88% after law school and were employed in bar-passage-required or anticipated jobs at a rate of 73.2%, according to an Oct. 20 press release from the NALP.

Law graduates with a parent or guardian with a JD degree did better in terms of overall employment (92.8%, compared to 88%) and employment in bar-passage-required or anticipated jobs (84.3%, compared to 73.2%).

Continuing-generation college students also did better in the job hunt after law school. They had an overall employment rate of 90.7% (versus 88%), while 79.5% secured bar-passage-required or anticipated jobs (versus 73.2%), according to Danielle Taylor, director of research at the NALP.

There was also a difference in median salaries. The median for continuing-generation JD students was $13,000 higher than for first-generation college students, and the median for continuing-generation college students was $8,000 higher. The difference was primarily because the continuing-generation students were more likely to be employed in private practice and in large firms in particular.

The statistics are based on class of 2020 graduates from ABA-accredited law schools.

James Leipold, executive director of the NALP, noted in the press release that a higher percentage of minority than white students were reported to be first-generation college students.

Overall, 22.5% of class of 2020 graduates reporting parental education data were first-generation college students. The figure was higher for Native American or Alaska Native (55%), Latino (41.9%), Black (35.9%) and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (33.3%) graduates.

“Distressingly,” Leipold said in the press release, “we continue to see that the lowest overall employment rates were measured for Black and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander law school graduates. It is incumbent upon law schools to put in the hard work necessary to close these gaps.”

The employment rate for white law grads was 90.1%, compared to 81.5% for Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander law grads and 83.8% for Black law graduates.

The employment rate in bar-passage-required or anticipated jobs was 78% for white law grads, compared to 62.5% for Black law grads and 56.8% for Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

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