The project is a longitudinal study of the career outcomes of a national cross-section of lawyers who passed the bar in 2000. The first wave of the project surveyed sample members in 2002-03, the second wave surveyed them in 2007-08 and the third wave surveyed them in 2012.
- Movement toward business, away from private practice
The survey showed respondents moving into the business sector, with 27.7 percent of respondents working in the business sector in 2012, compared with only 8.4 percent in 2003. Also, the percentage of respondents in private practice decreased from 68.6 percent in 2003 to 44.1 percent in 2012.
- Increase in number of non-practicing lawyers
By 2012, 24.1 percent of the surveyed lawyers were not practicing law, compared with 14.7 percent not practicing law in 2003.
- Top 10 law school grads leaving large private law firms
While 55.3 percent of Top 10 law school graduates reported working for a mega firm (251+ lawyers) in 2003, that number had fallen to 16.8 percent by 2012.
- Gender gap in pay
In 2012, female respondents working full time earned 80 percent of the pay reported by their male counterparts. The most dramatic gap occurred between non-practicing women and men in the business sector, where women made 67 percent of the pay reported by men.
- Gender gap in making partner
Only 52.3 percent of female respondents working in law firms were partners in 2012, compared with 68.8 percent of male respondents working in law firms. Also, 65.5 percent of men were equity partners, compared with 53 percent of women.
- Effects of school ranking
Those respondents working full time who attended a Top 10 law school earned a median of $73,500 more a year than those who attended a Tier 4 school.
- Paying off debt
As of 2012, 47.6 percent of respondents had paid off their educational debt, compared with 35.2 percent in 2007 and 15.7 percent in 2003.
- Blacks slower to pay off educational debt
African-Americans had a median of $69,000 in education debt remaining in 2012, compared with $50,000 for whites and Hispanics and $40,000 for Asians.
- Surprising effects of economic downturn
Overall, 40.8 percent of respondents said the economic downturn had no noticeable effect on them, while only 4.9 percent said they were laid off.
- Mostly satisfaction with career choice
On a 1-to-5 scale, the 2012 respondents on average rated their satisfaction with their decision to become a lawyer at 3.92. When asked whether they considered law school a good career investment, on a 1-to-7 scale, the average response was 5.55. Finally, when asked whether they would go to law school if they had it to do over again, on a 1-to-7 scale, the average response was 4.91.
Wave 3 of the After the JD project had 3,035 respondents and the data was collected from May 2012 to December 2012. It was funded by the American Bar Foundation, the NALP Foundation and the National Science Foundation.