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The percentage of Philadelphia-area law school graduates either employed or seeking an advanced degree has decreased by about 5 percent from last year, according to statistics provided by the five Delaware Valley-based schools. Roughly 85 percent of students graduating in 2002 are employed or back in school, compared to 90 percent of the 2001 students. The numbers for each year were gathered six months after graduation. With many employers taking a conservative stance due to the slow economy, law students increasingly looked into other options such as government positions and clerkships. According to the 2002 statistics, which were recently reported to the National Association of Legal Placement, 83.4 percent of local law graduates are employed, 1.6 percent decided to seek an advanced degree, 6.5 percent are seeking employment, 0.9 percent are not seeking employment and 7 percent could not be found. In 2001, 88.5 percent were employed, 1.8 percent sought advanced degrees, 6.1 percent were still seeking work, 0.7 percent were not seeking work and 2.9 percent could not be found. Much of the difference might be attributable to the fact that a higher percentage of 2002 grads could not be found, but law school career planning staffers said that this past recruiting season had fewer spots at large firms for students. As expected, the University of Pennsylvania had the highest percentage of students either employed or seeking advanced degrees, with roughly 98 percent. Villanova was next at 92 percent, followed by Rutgers University-Camden at 90 percent, Temple University’s Beasley School of Law at 89 percent and Widener University School of Law at 67. In 2001, Penn had 100 percent of its grads either employed or seeking degree work, followed by Villanova with 93.6 percent, Rutgers-Camden with 91.9 percent, Temple with 90.3 percent and Widener with 79.7 percent. The disparity between Widener’s employment numbers in the two years can possibly be attributed to the school having better luck tracking down information on students in 2001. In 2002, 20 percent of Widener’s graduates did not report information to its career planning office while only 5.8 percent of 2001 graduates could not be found. Elaine Petrossian, Villanova Law’s assistant dean for career planning, said the 92 percent employed marks a slight decrease from the 94 percent that had been standard at the school for the past several years, but she was still pleased with the outcome. “I think our students did well,” Petrossian said. “It wasn’t the easiest market, and 92 percent either have jobs or are going back to school. I think this group worked hard and the results of that are seen in the numbers.” Stephen Ball, assistant director of career planning at Rutgers-Camden, also said employment numbers are down, specifically in the law firm world. Rutgers-Camden always has a large percentage of students who partake in judicial clerkships, and Ball said the number was even higher in 2002 at 49.5 percent. Most are of the state variety as New Jersey judges are required to hire new clerks each year. But Ball said the sour economy coupled with the fact that clerkships have become a Rutgers-Camden tradition over the past decade, also played a key role. “The students get good feedback from other students who have done it,” Ball said. “And we really encourage it. It’s a great way to get experience while getting to know a judge.” According to Petrossian, Villanova also had a higher number of students who pursued clerkships (23.3 percent) and government positions (8.6 percent) while the number of students entering private practice decreased slightly — from about 60 percent to 58.1 percent. Penn had the highest percentage of students entering private practice (77.2 percent), followed by Villanova, Temple (53.3 percent), Widener (32 percent) and Rutgers-Camden (31.7 percent). Temple had the highest percentage of students who secured jobs in public interest (6.3 percent). As far as the public interest world goes, Penn had 2.5 percent of its graduates secure jobs in that arena, followed by Villanova (2.4 percent) and Widener (2 percent). Rutgers-Camden did not have any graduates move on to the public interest world. “That would be a tough thing for them to do,” Ball said. “You are talking about people who are burdened by an enormous amount of debt. But we do have a good number (7.2 percent) who pursue jobs in government. And that’s another form of public service.”

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