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After the JD 2: A Longitudinal Study of Careers in Transition, 2007-2008, United States (ICPSR 33584)

Principal Investigator(s): Nelson, Robert L., American Bar Foundation and Northwestern University; Dinovitzer, Ronit, American Bar Foundation and University of Toronto; Sterling, Joyce S., University of Denver Sturm College of Law; Garth, Bryant G., Southwestern Law School


The After the JD (AJD) project is a longitudinal study that is designed to track the careers of a nationally representative cohort of lawyers admitted to the bar in the year 2000. The first wave of the After the JD Study (AJD1) [ICPSR 26302] provided a snapshot of the personal lives and careers of this cohort about three years after they began practicing law. The second wave of the After the JD project (AJD2) seeks to illuminate the progression of lawyers' careers through roughly seven years in practice. The seventh year marks a crucial period in the careers of young lawyers. At the same time that they are facing important career decisions, these young lawyers are experiencing significant personal decisions about marriage and having children. AJD2 sought to locate and survey the entire original sample that was constructed in AJD1, even if a sample member had not been located or surveyed in AJD1. Only those individuals found to be ineligible for the study because they did not meet the required time period for obtaining their law degree and passing the bar were excluded. AJD2 obtained completed surveys of 3,705 eligible respondents, which includes 70.4 percent of the respondents to AJD1 (a group referred to as AJD1 Respondents) and 26.9 percent of those who were not surveyed in wave 1 (a group referred to as AJD1 Nonrespondents). The AJD2 data collection effort was launched in 2007 and completed in early 2008, with an overall response rate of 50.6 percent of eligible participants. As the legal profession has become more diverse in terms of entrants, it is critical to understand how women, men and women of color, individuals from less advantaged economic backgrounds, and other traditionally disadvantaged groups build careers. To examine the experiences of these groups at distinctive stages of their professional lives and to compare their career experiences to those of their peers, investigators were able to collect information about whether respondents' experiences were different from the outset or whether career trajectories diverge over time, what career strategies appear most successful for young lawyers, and whether these strategies vary by gender, race, and class; by legal market; by the selectivity of the law school from which lawyers graduate; or other dimensions. The AJD2 dataset allows for the analysis of a broad range of questions about the careers of lawyers and the social organization of the American legal profession. For example, some of the topics the study examines are: (1) demographic characteristics; (2) job mobility; (3) career satisfaction; (4) convergence/divergence in the career patterns of women and minorities; (5) indications of continuing inequality by gender; (6) family formation and the effects on professional careers; (7) career trajectories. AJD2 aims to provide a solid basis for future efforts to understand the changing character of legal careers. The final phase of the AJD2 data collection ended before the onslaught of the global financial crisis in the fall of 2008. Consequently, the data do not account for the profound effects of these turbulent events. The third wave of the study (AJD3) anticipates investigating these issues and many other similarly important transitions.

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Study Description


Nelson, Robert L., Ronit Dinovitzer, Joyce S. Sterling, and Bryant G. Garth. After the JD 2: A Longitudinal Study of Careers in Transition, 2007-2008, United States. ICPSR33584-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2012-08-14.

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This study was funded by:

  • Access Group, Inc.
  • American Bar Foundation
  • Law School Admission Council
  • National Association for Law Placement (NALP) Foundation for Law Career Research and Education
  • National Science Foundation (0550605)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    activism, attorneys, careers, economic indicators, educational background, employment discrimination, family background, harassment, income, job history, job opportunities, job satisfaction, job security, job skills, law school students, mentoring, minorities, occupational mobility, student financial aid, time utilization, training, work environment, workplaces

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 2007--2008

Date of Collection:   

  • 2007-09--2008-05

Unit of Observation:    individual

Universe:    Persons who first became members of a state bar in the year 2000, and who graduated from law school in the period July 1, 1998, through June 30, 2000, in the United States.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

This is the second wave of the After the JD (AJD) series. AJD Wave 1 is also available from ICPSR (ICPSR 26302).

ASU_ID is an ID variable that allows Wave 1 and Wave 2 of the After the JD study to be merged.


Sample:    The AJD study utilizes a two-stage scientific sampling approach, first selecting among metropolitan areas (or non-metropolitan portions of states) to obtain a wide geographic and population size distribution of geographic areas, and second, selecting individuals who meet individual eligibility criteria. In the first stage, the nation was divided into 18 strata by region and size of the new lawyer population. Within each stratum one primary sampling unit (PSU) was selected -- metropolitan area, portion of a state outside large metropolitan areas, or entire state -- was chosen. The PSU's included all four major markets, those with more than 2000 lawyers (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC); 5 of the 9 large markets, those with between 750 and 2,000 lawyers; and 9 of the remaining smaller markets. In the second stage, individuals were sampled from each of the PSU's at rates that would, combined, generalize to the national population. Additionally, an oversample of 1,465 new lawyers from minority groups (Blacks, Hispanic, and Asian American) was added. The final sample included just over 9,192 lawyers in the 18 PSU's. More information about sampling is available in "After the JD II: Second Results of a National Study of Legal Careers," a joint publication of the NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education and the American Bar Foundation (2009).

Weight:    This study contains three weight variables: BWT_NAT_NR, BWT_MIN_NR and BWT_COMB_NR. Variable BWT_NAT_NR is a national sample selection weight adjusted for nonresponse. This weight should be used with the National Sample Cases when making estimates of the characteristics of the population represented by the Nation Sample. Variable BWT_MIN_NR is a minority sample selection weight adjusted for nonresponse. This weight should be used when making estimates of the characteristics of minority persons. Variable BWT_COMB_NR is a joint nation/minority sample selection weight adjusted for nonresponse. The weight takes into account the possibility that an individual could be selected into both the National and Minority Samples, thus it adjusts for the probability of dual selection.

Mode of Data Collection:    mail questionnaire, telephone interview, web-based survey

Response Rates:    AJD Wave 2 = 3705 (50.6 percent); AJD Wave 2 includes 70.4 percent of respondents to AJD Wave 1 (a group referred to as AJD1 respondents) and 26.9 percect of those who were not surveyed in AJD Wave 1 (a group referred to as AJD1 Nonrespondents).

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2012-08-14

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