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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Lawsky Entry Level Hiring Report 2021

Following is a data summary of the Spring Reported Entry Level Hiring Report for 2021. To remain consistent with past years, while the spreadsheet contains all hiring information received, the data analysis includes only tenure-track hires at U.S. law schools. (The data analysis also includes several hires who requested not to be included in the spreadsheet at the date of this posting.)

This report and the spreadsheet are freely available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 license, cited as Sarah Lawsky, Lawsky Entry Level Hiring Report 2021, PrawfsBlawg, https://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2021/05/lawsky-entry-level-hiring-report-2021.html.

Here is the full spreadsheet:

There were 76 tenure-track hires at U.S. law schools reported, at 53 different law schools.

Q: How does 76 reported hires compare to past years?

This is a drop from the last few years. The average number of hires per year since 2014 is 76. (I omit 2010 in this and all subsequent cross-year comparisons because insufficient data was collected that year.)


It would useful to know the percentage of those who registered with the AALS who got jobs. While the AALS does not provide that information, the number of forms in the first distribution of FAR AALS forms is not a terrible proxy. This graph and chart compares the hiring in Year X to the number of forms in the first distribution in Year (X - 1) (because those are the people who were hired in Year X).



Q: You say the hires were at 53 different schools. How does that compare to previous years?

On the low side.


Q: How many reported hires got their JD from School X?


Yale 13; Chicago 6; Columbia 6; Harvard 5; Stanford 4; NYU 3; Virginia 3.

Schools in the “fewer than three hires” category with two JD/LLBs who reported hires: CUNY, Duke, Georgetown; Michigan, Vanderbilt.

Schools in the “fewer than three hires” category with one JD/LLB who reported hires: American; Aristotle U; Augsburg; Berkeley; Bonn; Boston University; BYU; Cardozo; Democritus University of Thrace; Fordham; Fundacao Getulio Vargas; George Washington; Georgia; Hastings; Illinois; Loyola-New Orleans; Nat'l Law School of India; Northeastern; Southern; Tehran; Temple; Tulsa; UCLA; Vermont.

This information comes with two related caveats.

First, the spreadsheet reports the number of hires who received a JD from a particular school who accepted a tenure-track job, but not the number of JDs on the market who received a tenure-track job offer.

Second, the spreadsheet reports the count of JDs from a particular school, but not the rate at which JDs received (or accepted) offers. A smaller school with a high placement rate thus might not appear on the chart, whereas a larger program with a low placement rate might appear. This caveat means that smaller schools may be undervalued if one relies only on this data, while larger schools might be overvalued. 

Q: How many reported hires had a fellowship, degree, or clerkship?

62 (about 82%) had a fellowship; 46 (about 61%) had a clerkship; 52 (about 68%) had a higher degree. All hires had at least one of these credentials. This is consistent with prior years.

Venn diagram:


Comparing two categories of the Venn diagram related to fellowships, degrees, and clerkships--hires that have all three credentials, and hires that have none of the credentials--a shift starting in 2017 is apparent:


Q: Still a lot of fellowships.

A: Yes, the percentage of fellowships remains high.


Q: From what law schools did people get these fellowships?

I count here any law school at which a person reports having a fellowship. So one person could account for two schools’ being listed here. For example, if a single individual had a fellowship at Columbia followed by a fellowship at NYU, that would be reflected below as +1 to Columbia and +1 to NYU.

NYU 13; Harvard 12; Columbia 6; Georgetown 5; Chicago 4; Stanford 4; Yale 4; Berkeley 3; Tulane 3; Fewer than Three 26.

This information comes with the same two caveats as the JD numbers.

First, the spreadsheet reports the number of hires who received a fellowship from a particular school who accepted a tenure-track job, but not the number of fellows who received a tenure-track job offer. This caveat likely applies to all or nearly all fellowship programs. Presumably, someone choosing between fellowships cares more about how many people received tenure-track job offers than about how many people accepted those offers.

Second, the spreadsheet reports the count of fellows, but not the rate at which fellows received (or accepted) offers. A smaller program with a high placement rate thus might not appear on the chart, whereas a larger program with a low placement rate might appear. This caveat means that smaller programs may be undervalued if one relies only on this data, while larger programs might be overvalued.

Q: Tell me more about these advanced degrees. 

Okay, but first a caveat: Although some people had more than one advanced degree, the following looks only at what seemed to me to be the "highest" degree someone earned. For example, someone with a Ph.D. and an LL.M. would be counted only as a Ph.D. for purposes of this question. (This tracks the "Other Degree (1)" column.)

That said, looking only at what seemed to be the most advanced degree, and including expected degrees, the 52 “highest” advanced degrees broke down like this:


Topics ranged all over the map. For the 31 Doctorates, 11 had degrees in Law (including Law & Economics and Law & Religion); 7 in Political Science (including Politics and Political Theory); 4 in Philosophy; 3 in Economics; 3 in History; 2 in Business (including Business Administration); 2 in Psychology (including Psychology and Business); and the other doctorate topics, each of which had only one hire, were Energy and Resource; English; and Health Policy and Management.

Q: What is the percentage of doctorates over time?

This year continued the now five-year trend of a 40% or higher percentage of reported hires with doctorates.


Q: That's a lot of doctorates, and that goes along with a lot of fellowships! How many people had a doctorate, or a fellowship, or both?

91% of the hires had either a doctorate (Ph.D., SJD, JSD, D.Phil.), a fellowship, or both.


Q: How long ago did these reported hires get their initial law degrees?


Zero to Four Years (Graduated 2017-2021) 10; Five to Nine Years (Graduated 2012-2016) 30; Ten to 19 Years (Graduated 2002-2011) 33; Twenty or More Years (Graduated before 2002) 3.

Q: How do the "time since initial degree" numbers compare to previous years?

Comparable, with a somewhat higher percentage of people who graduated 10-19 years ago.


Year Grad Chart.20210808

Q: Could you break the reported hires out by men/women?


Men 37 (49%); women 39 (51%). (Let’s say this is right within +/-2 people.)

Based on a quick count of a number of years of spreadsheets that I happen to have, gender hiring over time follows. (I’ve left out the data labels because I am even less sure than usual of the exactness of the numbers, but they’re roughly right as reflections of self-reported hiring each spring—first Solum’s reports, then mine. And as always, 2010 is left out due to missing data for that year.)


Q: More slicing! More dicing! Different slicing! Different dicing!

Sure--you can do it yourself, or ask questions in the comments and I'll see what I can do, or we'll work it out as a group.

Q: This is all wrong! I know for a fact that more people from School Y were hired!

Yes, this spreadsheet is certainly missing some information. Repeat: this spreadsheet is incomplete. It represents only those entry-level hires that were reported to me, either through the comments on this blog or via email. It is without question incomplete. 

If you want to know about real entry level hiring, I commend to you Brian Leiter's report (hiring 1995-2011), the Katz et al. article (all law professors as of 2008), the George and Yoon article (entry level, 2007-2008 hiring year), and the Tsesis Report (entry level, 2012-2013 hiring year). This is just a report about self-reported entry level hires as of the spring before the school year starts. 

Originally posted 5/17/2021; updated 5/17/2021, 5/18/2021, 5/21/2021, 6/4/2021, 6/24/2021, 7/3/2021, and 8/8/21 to include additional hires; updated 6/8/2021 to remove lateral hire.


Posted by Sarah Lawsky on May 18, 2021 at 12:14 PM in Entry Level Hiring Report | Permalink


In case someone has some extra RA hours to throw at this... would be really neat to see how Lawsky's annual entry-level hiring numbers compare over time to Leiter's annual lateral hiring numbers (https://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2021/06/lateral-hires-with-tenure-or-on-tenure-track-2020-21.html#more). Even just the grand totals for each during the past five years would be super interesting.

Posted by: bearerfriend | Jun 14, 2021 1:40:04 PM

@anon | May 27, 2021 11:16:11 AM - thank you! She had been included in the underlying data but hadn't been added to the public spreadsheet - I've now added her.

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | May 27, 2021 11:47:14 AM

Don't think this new hire is on the spreadsheet:


Posted by: anon | May 27, 2021 11:16:11 AM

Based on a cursory read of the names (and understanding that names do not directly translate to race or gender), it looks like a fair number of the entry level hires this year were women and/or POC. This may have been helped by what an earlier commenter as a rise in hiring for race & the law. It would be interesting to evaluate hiring trends by law school rank. I would assume it is much easier/more common for women and POC to get hired at the entry level at lower-ranked schools. Actual statistics on this would be interesting, but I agree that is outside the scope of this project. Thanks as always to Sarah for true yeoman's work on these every year.

Posted by: another anon | May 26, 2021 3:14:18 PM

To be fair to NYU, last year 2020-2021 was the first time they ever in about 10 years had an entry level hire. This year they had two entry level hires I believe. At least one was someone with a very close connection to NYU so they obviously knew the person well. The last entry level hire before last year I believe was a person of color (not sure about whether they definitely were or not but I believe so). I do know before last year there was a very long lag.

A sample size of 3 in 2 years can't really tell one much. Until last year, it was well known that NYU virtually never did any entry level hires.

Posted by: anon | May 26, 2021 2:28:51 PM

This is a project for a different author--perhaps a student coalition reviewing the practices of its own institution--but the data are available for some serious self-reflection about hiring patterns over time at particular schools. For example, I believe this year's hiring is consistent with NYU's longstanding pattern of only successfully onboarding white entry-level TT candidates for about 10 years now. POC candidates typically must already be at another T14 before joining NYU faculty or are placed on clinical track or some other non-TT role. Whether or not NYU makes offers to POC candidates, the receipts don't lie about who they actually onboard.

Posted by: Shy about it | May 25, 2021 6:27:51 PM

Given that effectively all successful candidates these days have either a fellowship or advanced degree, and given that the majority of these folks come directly from a fellowship or degree program, any changes to the 'supply' of highly qualified candidates should take a couple of years to work their way through the system (as highly qualified potential candidates forgo fellowships or PhD programs for other non-academic opportunities). The ~10% drop in FAR forms this year seems likely to be part of a long-term multi-year trend (there was a ~10% drop from 2018-2019, and a ~3% drop from 2019-2020) and my bet is that it probably doesn't have much to do with covid. On the other hand, the ~30% drop in hires this year seems to be *against* long-term trends (2017->2018->2019->2020 all saw increases in hires), so my bet is that's a reflection in demand rather than supply, likely due to covid.

Posted by: a non | May 25, 2021 11:05:21 AM

Posted by: Hiring percentage | May 25, 2021 9:51:32 AM: That's addressed to some extent in the report, in "Hiring per FAR Form." FAR information isn't open, but we do know, from various sources, how many first-round FAR forms there are.

That said, because FAR data isn't more generally open, we don't know whether we are looking at a supply issue (fewer qualified candidates) or a demand issue (not as many spots open for hires). My *strong* guess is it's a demand issue, not a supply issue, but given that we don't have a systematic way to know about the candidate pool, it's just a guess.

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | May 25, 2021 10:12:46 AM

What percentage of candidates who went on the market ended up accepting offers? Is FAR data open? I assume part of the reason for this year’s dip in hiring was a dip in applications.

Posted by: Hiring percentage | May 25, 2021 9:51:32 AM

@anon | May 23, 2021 10:03:15 PM: 35% had both a doctorate (PhD, JSD, DPhil, SJD) and a fellowship. This has been around the number since 2018.

2011: 15%
2012: 9%
2013: 18%
2014: 26%
2015: 20%
2016: 17%
2017: 28%
2018: 35%
2019: 35%
2020: 39%
2021: 35%

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | May 23, 2021 10:52:50 PM

What percentage of hires had BOTH a Ph.D. and a fellowship, if I may ask? And are we seeing a significant increase in the percentage of hires who have BOTH?

Posted by: anon | May 23, 2021 10:03:15 PM

"Is there any data on actual practice accomplishments such as first chair jury/court trials, lead counsel on merger or acquisition, lead counsel in mediation/arbitration, or appeals court arguments? Put another way , how many new hires were ever the first signnature on a complaint , dispositive motion, discovery motion, motion after verdict or appeals brief ?

Posted by: gary ahrens | May 20, 2021 10:03:37 AM"

No, but I think you probably already knew that.

Posted by: Anon | May 20, 2021 4:41:15 PM

Is there any data on actual practice accomplishments such as first chair jury/court trials, lead counsel on merger or acquisition, lead counsel in mediation/arbitration, or appeals court arguments? Put another way , how many new hires were ever the first signnature on a complaint , dispositive motion, discovery motion, motion after verdict or appeals brief ?

Posted by: gary ahrens | May 20, 2021 10:03:37 AM

Following up on the comment about subject areas, I noticed that among a possible 288 listings of subject matters, “Legal Ethics” has zero and “Prof Resp” has two—but both are in the “Area 4” listing.

Posted by: anon | May 19, 2021 10:29:15 AM

@Years of practice | May 17, 2021 12:20:34 PM: Yes, I really regret my choice long ago not to track years of practice. I was intimidated by the classification problem of what counted as legal practice, and at the time (11 years ago) years since grad was still not a terrible proxy for years of practice. Now, as you state, it isn't giving us that information. Someone might be able to do a study drawing from law prof CVs (from webpages) or from the AALS directory. And of course years of legal practice is a *critical* piece of information giving that law professors are training...lawyers.

@justonequestion | May 18, 2021 4:47:53 PM: Yes, fellowships include VAPs and any of a wide range of other non-permanent post-graduation academic positions. If you scroll over on the spreadsheet, the "Fellowship 1 Title" and "Fellowship 2 Title" list the titles of the "fellowships" and give a sense of what's falling into this category.

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | May 19, 2021 7:20:43 AM

Do "fellowships" include VAPs?

Posted by: justonequestion | May 18, 2021 4:47:53 PM

Very informative. Unsurprisingly given COVID-19, a very tough year for hiring, although it seems applicants were also scared off (stability right now if so important).

One interesting thing to note is the rise of "Race and the Law/Critical Race Theory" hires. I count 9 of 70 hires; in comparison, there are 2 fed courts, 2 environmental, 3 tax, 4 admin, 5 property, 5 health law, 6 civ pro, 6 corps/bus orgs, 7 torts, 9 contracts, 11 con law, 11 crim pro, and 20 crim hires.

Posted by: First Day of My Life | May 17, 2021 7:12:31 PM

I guess it's worth noting that, given the prevalence of (sometimes multiple) fellowships and PhD's alongside clerkships, years since graduation no longer necessarily correlates with years of practice.

Posted by: Years of practice | May 17, 2021 12:20:34 PM

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