Landmark study for class of '88

Class of

Initial findings have been released of a study that tracked the careers of the 1988 graduating class of the Sydney Law School, providing insights into career development and areas including family, income and job satisfaction. The report was based on data from an online survey, which included 191 of the 260 graduates in the cohort. The 1988 group was chosen because it was one of the first to have an almost-equal gender split.

The research, jointly sponsored by the University of Sydney’s Business and Law schools and supported by Ashurst and Towers Watson legal firms, provides the first insights into how the careers of male graduates of the Law School have differed from those of their female colleagues and how variables including academic motivation, level of achievement, initial career destination, parenting and partnering, and care-giving responsibilities impacted career decisions and outcomes.

At an event held in February to launch the initial findings, the Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence congratulated the research team (Professor Marian Baird, Business School; Professor Greg Tolhurst, Law School; Professor Catharine Lumby, Macquarie University Media Studies; Dr Nicole McWilliam, UTS Research Fellow; Dr Adam Hall, Towers Watson and Kate Cato, Head CSR Ashurst) and said the research was significant on three levels: for the University; the Law School and the legal profession.

The majority of respondents (61 percent of females and 59 percent of males) began their careers in large private firms but, 25 years later, males were about three times more likely to still be in large private firms than females. The data also provides valuable insights into family formation (with males more than twice as likely as females to have more than two children), hours worked, impact of mentoring, remuneration outcomes and overall satisfaction levels across the cohort.

The next stage of the research will examine triggers for key career decisions and correlations between longer-term career success within and outside the legal profession.