George Washington University Law School sent nearly 23 percent of its class of 2012 into jobs paid for by the school itself. Rutgers School of Law – Camden sent the largest percentage of its class to state court clerkships. The College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law sent more than 34 percent of its graduates into government and public interest jobs.
Those are among the thousands of nuggets of information contained in a data trove released recently by the American Bar Association. During the past two years, the ABA has significantly increased the amount and detail of information it requires law schools to report about job placement. It also has worked to get the information to the public much faster — the better to guide law school applicants.
The organization breaks down the types of jobs graduates have landed and whether they are full-time, long-term or short-term positions, and identifies the three states where graduates of each law school were most likely to find work.
The key takeaway is that the job market for new lawyers improved not much at all in 2012: As of nine months after leaving campus, just 56 percent of law graduates had landed full-time, long-term jobs that required bar passage. That represented an improvement of one percentage point from 2011.
Anyone considering enrolling should take those figures as a red flag, according to Kyle McEntee, executive director of the advocacy group Law School Transparency. "Law school is too expensive relative to job outcomes," he said. "If you plan to debt-finance your education or use hard-earned savings, seriously think twice about attending law school without a steep discount."
The National Law Journal waded through jobs data from all 202 ABA-accredited law schools to learn which performed the best in a number of areas — placing graduates in large law firms, federal clerkships, government and public interest law jobs and otherwise obtaining full-time, permanent jobs that required bar passage — the gold standard for legal employment. We also identified the schools with the highest unemployment rates for new graduates and the largest percentage in temporary, part-time or nonprofessional jobs.
While the most prestigious law schools continued to enjoy relatively robust placement numbers, graduates of many schools were still struggling to find permanent legal employment. Nearly 28 percent of new graduates nationwide either were unemployed or held part-time, short-term or nonprofessional jobs as of nine months after graduation.
The employment situation appeared to be toughest in California. Eight of the 10 law schools with the highest percentage of new graduates who were either unemployed or in positions other than full-time, permanent, bar-passage-required jobs were in California. Similarly, six of the 10 law schools with the largest percentage of graduates who were unemployed and seeking work were in the Golden State.
Karen Sloan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.