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In 1966, the University of Michigan Law School began an annual survey of selected classes of its graduates. For the first few decades of the survey, only the graduating classes five and fifeen years out of law school were included in the survey. Beginning in 1997, graduates 25, 35, and 45 years out of law school were added. This memorandum focuses primarily on surveys conducted between 1997 and 2006 of the living graduates of the classes of 1952 through 1961, who had by then been out of law school for 45 years. After 45 years, the great majority were 69 years or older. More than half the graduates reported themselves as still working and most of those who were working reported that they were still working fulltime. Only 39 percent of the graduates regarded themselves as fully retired.

This memorandum provides information on the ages at which graduates shifted to part-time work or retired fully and on the differences in the timing of retirement between those working in private law firms and those working in government or business. It also provides information on the incomes and career satisfaction of the graduates in relation to their work status at the time of the survey. Finally, the memorandum includes a brief discussion of the plans for retirement reported by the graduates surveyed when 25 and 35 years out of law school, the huge majority of whom were still working full-time at the point of our survey.