Regardless of the quality or quantity of faculty and on-campus amenities and opportunities, the newly released data of 2010 by ABA shows that ‘location’ of the law school is a vital factor in determining pattern of employment. According to the data, 19% graduates from law schools within New York are more likely to be employed by firms with more than 501 attorneys compared to a meager 9% national average working in similar environments.
And when quality is combined with location, the results speak by themselves: Top rated schools within New York like Columbia Law School, Cornell Law School and New York University School of Law sent about 50%-60% of their graduates to firms with more than 501 attorneys. Also government positions were more accessible to law schools close to seats of power.
Out of all law schools in the New York State, Brooklyn Law School and Albany Law School sent the greatest number of graduates to government positions. At least 16 percent of graduates from each of these schools were employed in short of long-term government jobs.
The situation was clarified by David Singer, a spokesman for the Albany Law School: “As the only law school within about 100 miles of New York State’s Capital Region, Albany Law has more internship opportunities than it can fill with the courts, state agencies, the Legislature, the executive branch, and the local firms, which often lead to full-time jobs.” The effect is of course cumulative. As Singer mentioned, more than 800 of the law school’s alumni are in government jobs and it makes induction of students easier with opportunities to share experience.
Nine months after graduation, only 8 percent of graduates from law schools in New York State were in mid-sized firms, between 51 and 500 attorneys.
The percentage of students from New York law schools employed by small law firms, below 51 attorneys, was consistent with the national average of 26 percent in this sector. However, in New York, the reasons of being employed in small law firms are more a matter of choice than lack of alternatives.
According to Dean Lawrence Raful of Touro Law Center, there are two principal reasons why many students opt for small law firms:
Firstly, “A lot of students are from Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn and Queens … People are interested in staying in their neighborhoods and helping people in their neighborhoods with local issues.”
And, very importantly, small firms provide more opportunities to recent graduates for gathering hands-on experience, going to court and working by themselves, which is appealing to students. As Larry Cunningham, associate dean for student services at St. John’s told the media on the appeal of small law firms, “These are employers that don’t have the luxury of large training programs or staffing cases with multiple attorneys.” The opportunity to engage in real practice from day one is something offered by small law firms.