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After the JD

Authors: Bryant G. Garth, Robert L. Nelson, Ronit Dinovitzer, Gabriele Plickert, Joyce Sterling

The After the JD (AJD) project is the first and most ambitious effort to gather systematic, detailed data about the careers and experiences of a national cross-section of law graduates. It follows a large national sample of lawyers admitted to the bar in 2000 over the first decade-plus of their careers and is a unique source of information on the changing nature of legal careers.

AJD is an empirical study of the career outcomes of a cohort of almost 5,000 new lawyers, offering both a nationally representative picture of lawyer career trajectories and an in-depth portrait of the careers of women and racial and ethnic minority lawyers. The study design is longitudinal, following the careers of new lawyers over the first ten years following law school graduation; the first cohort of lawyers was surveyed in 2002, the second in 2007, and the third in 2012.


The AJD project was a concept first proffered by members of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) more than 40 years ago. Legal career services and recruitment administrators in the mid-1970’s were hungry for information that would help them in their efforts to counsel, recruit, hire and develop young attorneys. They dreamed of a longitudinal study that would follow the careers of lawyers over time and identify the influences on their job choice decisions. So they sketched out the scope of a research study that might provide them with answers and submitted it for consideration to NALP’s leadership.

Although it was a research project that was sorely needed, the magnitude and cost of implementing it far exceeded the capacity and resources of the organization at the time. Thus the research concept was relegated to a file folder and status as “wishful thinking” for many years.

In 1996, Paula Patton, NALP’s Executive Director, reopened that file folder and after envisioning that such a study could mean to the profession, asked the Board to consider the possibilities.  They did so by commissioning the development of a prospectus to explore the methodology and funding for undertaking the systematic research study of lawyer careers. The prospectus affirmed that a study of this type was rich with value and possibilities, thus NALP took the bold step of creating  The NALP Foundation, a 501c3 organization dedicated to research and education on lawyer careers.  The responsibility for and ownership of the prospectus was transferred to the Foundation and during the past 12 years, the Foundation has actively sponsored the project, gained the commitment of a select group of the nation’s leading legal scholars and social science researchers, and with the sponsorship and leadership of the Soros Foundation, the American Bar Foundation, NALP, the Law School Admission Council, Access Group, and the National Science Foundation, secured the funding to implement the study.


Hard copies of the reports on all three waves of the study are available for purchase through the NALP Bookstore. For electronic copies of the reports, please see the links under "summaries and findings" below.

Data Access

The After the JD data are available in two forms, as public data set and restricted data set. It is of significant  importance that the confidentiality of respondents is strictly protected. The available data sets prevent full access to all data sources. Therefore, the distribution of the AJD data is limited in the following ways:

  1. The public data include only a subset of recoded variables, available through ICPSR (University of Michigan). Please see the links under "summaries and findings" below.
  2. The restricted data (more extensive data) are only distributed to certified researchers who commit themselves to maintaining limited access.
  3. In no case is identifiable information available to any outside researchers.

The rationale for this release structure is to protect the identities of AJD respondents while allowing access to the data to a wide range of researchers.

Individuals interested in accessing the restricted AJD data, please complete the restricted access form and submit to Meghan Dawe, Research Social Scientist for the AJD project. For further information and questions about the data access related to the AJD study (e.g. data, questionnaires, detailed variable list, codebooks, survey data analysis, etc.), please also contact Meghan Dawe.

Meghan Dawe

American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive

4th Floor

Chicago, IL 60611


Phone: 312.988.6534 | Fax: 312.988.6579

Summaries and findings

Jan 1, 2014
Jan 1, 2009
AJD Wave I
Jan 1, 2004

All summaries and findings »

Related documents

AJD Publications/Related Publications
Apr 5, 2017
AJD Selected Presentations
Apr 5, 2017

All related documents »

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