Canadian Lawyer Career Satisfaction Remains Remarkably High Three Years after Graduation Despite Pandemic Challenges

The NALP Foundation and NALP have released their joint study, Law School Alumni Employment and Satisfaction for the Class of 2017, their fourth such report focusing on Canadian law schools.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Reflecting the legal profession's increasing focus on equity, diversity and inclusion, this year’s study includes new information about diverse and first-generation graduates, as well as data on educational debt and the impact of COVID-19 and the economic downturn.

Among the key findings:

1) High employment and satisfaction rates: Both the employment rate (95%) and career satisfaction levels (82%) remain remarkably high.

2) High mobility levels: 61% of alumni have held two or more sequential positions since graduation.

3) Limited impact of COVID-19 and the economic downturn:
- Close to one-third of graduates reported no noticeable impact on their jobs and careers;
- Nearly one-third experienced a reduction in their amount of work;
- One-fifth of graduates reported these issues affected their ability to meet billable hour targets.

4) Outstanding educational debt (in Canadian dollars) varied considerably:
- Total educational debt ranged from none to $500,000 at the three-year mark;
- Average educational debt remaining was $34,666 while 8% had more than $100,000 remaining.

“This study, focused solely on Canadian law schools and on the experiences of our alumni three years after graduation, provides key insights as we all seek to evolve our curricula to meet our students’ needs as they enter the profession,” said Dr. Ian Holloway, Professor and Dean of Law, The University of Calgary and a member of the NALP Foundation Board of Trustees.

“Our joint annual study spotlights legal education – and whether it does or does not effectively prepare graduates for practice,” said Fiona Trevelyan Hornblower, President & CEO of the NALP Foundation. “It also provides critical information on their early careers, and will therefore be of keen interest to all those working in Canadian legal education and with young lawyers,” said Hornblower.

This year’s study reflects data from 306 responses from four Canadian law schools’ graduates; data was collected over a four-month period from September 9 to December 31, 2020. The full PDF report for Canadian law schools is available for purchase from the NALP Foundation Bookstore. A comparable report for U.S. law schools is also available on the NALP Foundation website.

To inquire about participating in future Canadian alumni studies, please contact Jennifer Mandery, Vice President for Research, at jmandery@nalpfoundation.org.