Practice Setting

We analyzed survey responses to identify any differences in the helpfulness of hiring criteria based on a respondent’s practice setting. The survey allowed respondents to identify their practice setting from a list of 23 options.(18) However, in order to produce more meaningful, digestible results, we collapsed these options into four groups: private practice, business in-house counsel, government, and other settings (e.g., education, legal services/public defender, public interest/nonprofit).(19) A majority of respondents worked in private practice (58%), while much smaller proportions worked in government (18%), other (17%), and business in-house (8%) settings.

Figure 3: Respondent Practice Setting (n = 23080)


For respondents in private practice, government, and other settings, the top ten most helpful hiring criteria included all eight practical experience criteria. In addition, the top ten for each of these three practice settings included two academic experience or achievement criteria—for private practice and government settings, these academic criteria took the ninth and tenth places, while they took sixth and tenth place for other settings. For business in-house respondents, however, three academic criteria made the top ten and took the fifth, ninth, and tenth places; the remaining seven criteria were in the practical experience category.

Figure 4: Top Ten Hiring Criteria for Practice Setting


More than 60% of respondents across practice settings considered each of the eight practical experience criteria to be helpful in hiring new lawyers. Those in private practice and government were considerably more likely to find federal and state court clerkships helpful, compared to their counterparts in business in-house and other settings. A similar pattern emerged for recommendations from judges or practitioners. Respondents in private practice were more likely than those in all other settings to report ties to a geographic location are helpful. Those in business in-house settings were somewhat less likely than those in other groups to find recommendations from professors to be a helpful criterion in determining whether a new lawyer has the needed foundations.

Of the seventeen hiring criteria, we found that ten had a statistically, but not practically, significant relationship with practice setting, while the remaining seven were both statistically and practically significant—no results were found to be neither practically nor statistically significant.

Table 2: Statistical and Practical Significance in Practice Setting Analysis


Figure 5: Proportion of Respondents Indicating Somewhat or Very Helpful for All Hiring Criteria, Practice Setting



18.  Respondents who indicated their practice setting was either private practice, business in-house, or non-profit in-house were further asked to select which of nine banded response options reflected the number of lawyers in the firm or department.

19.  See the appendix for a full list of response options and how they fit into each of the four analysis groups, available at