In the early 1950s, the typical graduate of Michigan Law began his career working as an associate in a law firm with four other lawyers and earned about $5,000 in his first year. Surprising to us today, in his new job he would have earned slightly less than other classmates whose first jobs were in government. Fifty years later, in the early 2000s, the typical graduate still started out as an associate in a law firm, but the firm she worked for had more than 400 lawyers. She earned about $114,000 in her first year, about three times as much as her classmates who began their careers in government. These and other fundamental changes in the beginnings of legal careers are findings from the University of Michigan Law School’s Alumni Survey. For 40 consecutive years, from 1967 through 2006, the Law School surveyed its graduates 15 years after graduation about their law school experiences and their careers. For more than 30 years (from 1973 through 2006), the survey included the graduates five years out, and for 10 years (from 1997 through 2006), the graduates 25, 35, and 45 years out. During the 40-year period, nearly 17,000 persons were asked to complete a questionnaire, with all classes except the five-year graduates of 1992–2001 surveyed more than once. On average, 67 percent of the surveyed graduates responded each year, an extraordinarily high rate for a mail questionnaire. Here is some of what we’ve found.
Chambers, David L., co-author. "Starting Out: Changing Patterns of First Jobs for Michigan Law School Graduates." T. K. Adams, co-author. Law Quad. Notes 52, no. 2 (2009): 23-8.