To Practice, to Not Practice

By Margaret Mitschke*

The ABA Journal reported on May 13, 2015, that a Harvard Law School study found that about 28% of Harvard Law graduates were no longer in legal careers. The study analyzed four different graduating classes, eight possible reasons why the graduates chose other professions, and differences in female versus male law graduates.

The four different graduating classes analyzed included the 1975, 1985, 1995, and 2000 classes, as part of Harvard Law School’s, “The Women and Men of Harvard Law School: Preliminary Results from the HLS Career Study”. The results, presented graphically below, show that an average of 28% of graduates from these four classes no longer practice law.

Graph1The study also questioned respondents why they no longer practiced law. Of the eight possible reasons offered by the researchers, “other” was chosen by a majority of the respondents, over work-life balance, lack of interest in the work, and lack of legal jobs. Many who chose the “other” category listed the positive attributes of the non-legal jobs.

When it comes to differences between female law graduates and their male counterparts, the researchers found that on average, women in law firms worked 52 hours a week, while men worked 48.6 hours. There was also a large difference in the percentage of men and women currently working at law firms, shown below:

Graph2Female graduates were less likely to be currently married, or ever married (except in the 1975 graduate cohort). The number of graduates with children also varied by gender. 24% of female partners had no children, while 12% of male partners had no children. It was also found that less than half of law grads who were female with two or more children were still working full-time. There were also negative consequences at work reported after having a child. These included pressure to work while on parental leave, unreasonable work demands after their leave, and difficulty in obtaining flexible or part-time work, with the differences shown below:

Graph4When it comes to deciding whether to attend law school or work as an attorney, having sound advice can be extremely helpful. If you are interested in pursuing a law degree and career, you can set up an appointment to speak with your full time on campus attorney. Gene Roberts obtained his J.D. from Southern Methodist University. He also received mediation training from the University of Texas School of Law’s Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution, and Pepperdine University School of Law’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. He is authorized to practice law in all Texas state courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States Districts Courts of Texas. Before working as the Director of Student Legal and Mediation Services, he practiced law in Dallas, Texas. He can offer you advice on law schools and legal careers from his personal experience.

Please feel free to contact us and make an appointment at (936) 294-1717 or go online at to schedule a free consultation with our attorney.

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