Graduates in 2010 from most of Georgia’s law schools found legal jobs at higher rates than students at many other universities across the country, according to Law School Transparency’s rankings.

The exception was Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, which placed only about a quarter of its graduates in long-term law jobs outside of solo practice. Three of Georgia’s other law schools recorded employment scores above the national average of 58 percent.

The scores are based on the percentage of graduates who have permanent jobs that require a law degree-not including solo practice, which Law School Transparency doesn’t consider sustainable employment for rookie lawyers. The site’s scores, published April 30, come from combining employment figures for each school from the American Bar

Association, U.S. News & World Report, school websites and the National Association for Law Placement.

John Marshall scored the nation’s eighth-lowest employment score, 24.7 percent, among 185 law schools graded by the website.

John Marshall didn’t respond to phone and email messages sent this week to career development and communications officials.

The University of Georgia led the state in the ratings, recording the nation’s 18th-highest employment score, at 79 percent, and the 15th-highest federal clerkship rate, at 8.7 percent.

“Every school has experienced greater difficulty in getting graduates the jobs they want, but we’re making progress,” said Paul Rollins, associate dean for administration.

Emory University ranked second place in the state and 26th in the nation. Vice Dean Robert Ahdieh interpreted its 75.6 percent employment score as a challenge to improve job placement opportunities for graduates.

“There’s no reason that number shouldn’t be 100 percent, or overwhelmingly having a class able to pursue the opportunities they’re interested in,” Ahdieh said. “We have students who have not been able to find their niche to track the career path they want. We see that as a huge priority.”

He said students should dig into the underlying numbers to make the best decisions for their individual situations rather than rely on aggregated numbers such as Law School Transparency’s employment score or U.S. News & World Report’s rankings.

Mercer University School of Law Dean Gary Simson took issue with Law School Transparency’s exclusion of graduates who go into solo practice. Mercer received an employment score of 67.1 percent 49th nationally, but that number would have increased to 75 percent if all those in jobs requiring passage of the bar exam were counted.

“If they don’t count our solo practitioners, then what you’re going to do is punish those schools that don’t send their graduates to large firms,” Simson said. “That’s bizarre.”

Georgia State University didn’t receive an employment score grade because it didn’t report to U.S. News or on its own website the number of its graduates in jobs that required bar passage. That number is needed to calculate Law School Transparency’s employment score. The university is evaluating how it presents content online as it updates its career services website, Director of Career Services Vickie Brown said in a statement.

Georgia State University provided the 16th-most affordable legal education among schools that offer discounts to their in-state residents, according to Law School Transparency.

Its resident tuition rate was $14,770 compared with a national average of $22,010 for residents. University of Georgia also offered a discount to in-state students, costing $17,624.

“It is part of our mission to provide accessible and affordable legal education to both traditional and non-traditional students, and our programs will remain affordable to any aspiring legal student,” said GSU College of Law Dean Steven Kaminshine in a statement.

Statewide, Georgia’s five law schools’ nondiscounted tuition average was $37,073, compared with the national average of $37,691.


Employment scores of Georgia law schools

Law School Transparency gives each school an employment score, which attempts to measure how many graduates land permanent law jobs nine months later. The score is calculated by taking the number of 2010 graduates in jobs requiring state bar admission, and then subtracting those graduates who are solo practitioners or in short-term firm jobs.

Law School/Employment Score

University of Georgia79

Emory University75.6

Mercer University67.1

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School24.7

Georgia State UniversityUnscored

Georgia State University didn’t report the number of graduates in jobs requiring bar passage.