How to Identify Law Schools with High-Quality Career Services
Many law school applicants view a law degree as a means to bolster their job placement prospects. Most recently, the Class of 2015 saw the least number of private practice jobs than any law graduating class in nearly two decades, according to US News.
Job prospects may look bleak for law school graduates, but aspiring lawyers can increase employment chances by seeking to attend law schools with high-quality careers services. Such centers excel at everything from prepping students for interviews to helping them network with leading employers and alumni. What sets such centers apart? Here are four strategies, from US News, to identify law schools with high-quality career services.
1.) Job placement statistics
When looking at law school job placement statistics, it is crucial to identify the percentage of graduates who had jobs on the “day they graduated that required bar passage and weren’t funded by the law school,” according to US News. Data from the American Bar Association suggests the average placement rate for Class of 2015 graduates at 59.2%. Data compiled by US News found that The University of Chicago had the highest job placement at 91.3%.
On top of simply looking at job placement statistics, law school applicants should find the most common types of legal jobs held by a school’s recent graduates and where a school’s graduates tend to work. Through this data, applicants can assess whether a career services office can connect students with a multitude of legal specialties and locations or whether its connections are merely limited to a specific type of law or region.
2.) Seek a law school with a large career services staff
Another strategy is to evaluate how much a law school invests in its career services. Martha Fagan, a retired senior director of alumni relations at Emory and a former administrator at the university’s law school, tells US News that a key question to ask when looking at law schools is, “How many people work in the career services office and whether each student is assigned a career services counselor whom they can ask for help as needed.” A law school that invests heavily in its career services can suggest that the school possesses the resources to help graduates land good jobs after graduation.
3.) Look for special programs offered to first-year law students
Law schools with strong career counseling generally show higher job placement statistics. Marcia Pennington Shannon, assistant dean of career strategy with Georgetown Law, tells US News that prospective applicants can assess the quality of a law school’s career services office by seeing whether a law school offers career exploration workshops to first-year law students. These special careers programs offer students the opportunity to discover areas of law they might be interested in. Shannon says that prospective law students should also see if a law school offers first year students the opportunity to take career assessment tests which determine the areas of law that best fit a student’s goals.
4.) Browse clinics, practicums and externships
Earning real world experience—in the form of clinics, practicums, or externships—is a crucial factor in a law student’s resume. Look for law schools that offer course credit for clinics, practicums, and externships. Not only will seeking real world experience give your resume a boost, but these types of experiences can also help you to build important connections down the road.
Randall Kessler, an Atlanta divorce lawyer and adjunct law professor at Emory Law, tells US News that instructors, who are generally successful lawyers, occasionally hire students who excel in law school clinics.
“You can see the rising stars, you see the students that are wonderful, and you say, ‘That kid’s great.'”
Sources: US News, American Bar Association