Career Services

Published: October 30th, 2006

Category: Students

Florida Ranks No. 5 Nationally in Entry-Level Legal Positions

The NALP publication, Jobs & JD’s, Class of 2005, provides valuable employment and salary data. For example, it shows that Florida ranked fifth in terms of the number of entrylevel legal positions gained within the state, even finishing ahead of Washington, D.C.

A total of 1,877 new law graduates began their careers in Florida, of which 75.8% of the jobs went to graduates of Florida’s law schools. New York tops the list with 4,445 positions obtained in New York. California comes in second with 4,067 in-state positions. Texas is third with 2,204 in-state positions, while Illinois is fourth with 1,959 new legal positions.

If you plan to leave Florida upon graduation, the chart would provide a good reference point to determine the states that hire the largest number of out-of-state graduates such as Virginia, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Michigan, Indiana, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Gainesville Has Lowest Salaries Across Florida

Jobs & JD’s, Class of 2005 also lists the mean starting salaries by city for law firm jobs taken by recent graduates, as follows:

1. $80,488—Miami

2. $72,778—Naples 

3. $68,941—Orlando

4. $67,299—Tampa

5. $64,609—Coral Gables

6. $64,571—West Palm Beach

7. $63,714—Pensacola

8. $62,752—Ft. Lauderdale

9. $59,700—Tallahassee

10. $59,608—Jacksonville

11. $59,400—Sarasota

12. $58,214—Daytona Beach

13. $57,500—Ft. Myers

14. $57,083—St. Petersburg

15. $55,833—Clearwater

16. $53,500—Lakeland

17. $52,923—Boca Raton

18. $51,550—Hollywood

19. $46,658—Plantation

20. $38,800—Gainesville

The mean entry-level salary for Atlanta firms was $92,847 and for Washington, D.C. $118,165.

How the Grads Found Their Job

For those graduates who received their offer of employment after graduation, the most common sources of employment were described as:

• 28.8% a result of a targeted mailing or other self-initiated contact with the employer.

• 20.1% a referral by a business colleague, professor, friend, or relative

• 19.8% a response to a job posting listed by their career services office

If you wish job search assistance or cover letter or resume review, please schedule an appointment with one of Career Services knowledgeable, attorney counselors.

Employment Advisory to Students

While gaining legal experience provides a meaningful way to enrich your legal education and enhance your legal credentials, it is critical that law students recognize that there are limits to the work they legally can perform without violating the Florida Bar Rules prohibiting the unlicensed practice of law. Law students and law graduates, yet to be sworn in to the bar, may not practice law nor provide legal advice.

Chapter 10 of the Rules regulating the Florida Bar regulates the unlicensed practice of law. These rules caution that while nonlawyers can “engage in limited oral communications…reasonably necessary to elicit factual information … to assist a person in the completion of blanks on a legal form approved by the Supreme Court of Florida… and inform the person how to file the form,” the nonlawyer preparer/assistant must include on the document a signed, written disclosure as stated in Florida Bar Rule 10- 2.1(a)

A law student or law graduate who is certified by the Supreme Court of Florida as a certified legal intern (CLI) pursuant to Chapter 11 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, may represent certain individuals in limited circumstances while performing under the supervision of a Florida licensed attorney in good standing. The only mechanism for becoming a CLI is to register for and participate in certain clinical programs offered by the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

The Florida Bar possesses the authority to investigate UPL (Unlicensed Practice of Law) complaints and to prosecute these cases. Please ask before you act. The Florida Bar’s UPL Division can be reached at (850) 561-5840 or check with your professor about whether an act you are considering would constitute the unlicensed practice of law.