82% of young lawyers happy with their career

The Class of 2018 had challenges when it came to launching legal careers, and it wasn’t limited to just learning the art of networking and writing an eye-catching resume. COVID reared its ugly head shortly after they entered the workforce.

However, the young lawyers seem to have handled it well. A recent joint survey by the NALP Foundation and NALP called “Law School Alumni Employment and Satisfaction, Class of 2018,” found that 82% of respondents were satisfied with their legal careers.

That’s only slightly lower for the study conducted on the Class of 2017. This is the ninth study of its kind conducted by NALP partners. In this case, the data comes from nearly 1,500 graduates of 30 US law schools.

But the survey showed that all members of the class did not fare the same. Students of color had significantly more debt, $123,336, compared to white students who reported $85,397. Almost everything was related to law school.

Additionally, women reported that the pandemic and economic crisis affected their mental health at much higher rates than men: 46% compared to 31%.

“While the good news is that job satisfaction remains high overall for these recent law school graduates, the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the differentiated experiences of graduates of color and women in both law school as at the start of their careers deserve specific attention as the legal ecosystem grapples with the future of work and the diversity of the profession,” said Fiona Trevelyan Hornblower, president and CEO of the NALP Foundation.

NALP Executive Director James Leipold noted that “the difference in debt levels between graduates of color and their white peers is particularly concerning and should give us all pause. However, it is encouraging to see overall job satisfaction ratings remain so high despite the additional challenges faced during the pandemic era.”

One aspect of the survey seems vague to some legal education experts, and that is the measurement of satisfaction. What exactly does satisfaction mean? Lawrence Krieger is a professor of law at Florida State University School of Law who, along with social scientist Ken Sheldon, conducted a study called “What Makes Lawyers Happy? A data-driven recipe to redefine career success.”

He found that things like autonomy and building deep personal relationships — not necessarily money or prestige — were keys to happiness in the profession. And he wonders if a satisfied lawyer is also happy.

“We could assume that job satisfaction also means happiness, but we know that there are many lawyers who are substantially satisfied with their jobs (they are successful and could leave or change, but they don’t) who are nonetheless very unhappy and/or unhealthy. ”.

Krieger challenges the assumption that job satisfaction means well-being and says more research is needed.

NALP uses a five-point scale to determine satisfaction, where five equals “extremely satisfied” and one equals “extremely dissatisfied.”

“The study also investigated employee participants’ satisfaction with various aspects of their current role,” said Jennifer Mandery, NALP’s vice president of research. “Alumni were most satisfied with ‘job security,’ ‘attitude,’ or ‘fitting’ into your organization’s culture,’ and ‘level of responsibility you have,’ while ‘support for mental health and wellness’, one of the new aspects explored in this year’s study, received the lowest rating”.

A different study from Krill Strategies found that 1 in 4 women are contemplating leaving the legal profession due to mental health issues, burnout, or stress. 17% of male lawyers report the same thoughts.

Leave a Comment