• Reports

After the JD: First Results of a National Study of Legal Careers


After the JD: Phase I

This report contains data for Wave I of AJD from 2002-03. The data presented here provide a first snapshot of the stratified random national sample of more than 5,000 lawyers, based on questionnaires administered two to three years into the new lawyers’ careers.

The AJD data will allow the research community to investigate a broad range of these multiple factors and to test their importance across time. The topics the study examines include job mobility, career satisfaction, convergence/divergence in the career patterns of women and minorities, indications of continuing inequity by gender and race, family formation and its effects on professional careers, financing legal education, and changes in fields of practice and legal specialties.

In Phase I, researchers examined which lawyers move into the various practice settings and how those practice settings differ. The strikingly clear example of difference in settings is between the very largest firms and officers on one side and government and public interest practices on the other. While most of the AJD lawyers are not found in the largest firms or the government, many dimensions of practice – compensation, time devoted to law practice, satisfaction, mobility, responsibility – are illuminated by this basic contrast. Another focal point of this report is the impact of race, ethnicity, and gender as new lawyers begin to build their careers. In this early stage of reporting, there were already notable impacts, mediated through – but not entirely explained by – the differences in practice settings.