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University of Chicago Becomes Law School to Beat with New 2016 Employment Data Report
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Chicago Law School

Summary: The latest report released by the American Bar Association on employment rates for new graduates show a troubling trend.

The much anticipated American Bar Association report on employment data for the last year’s graduating class has finally been released. The results may be surprising for some. The University of Chicago Law School ruled the numbers with the highest percentage of their 2016 graduates in law jobs, making them the school to beat next year. Here is the full chart for reference:


The report is put together by examining the reported data from the 204 ABA-approved law schools to the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Of the collected data, they determined that 73 percent of all 2016 graduates had obtained full-time, long-term Bar Passage Required of J.D. Advantage jobs by 10 months after graduation. The previous year was 70 percent so things are looking up for the legal profession for new graduates. To better understand the different definitions for each type of reported job, look at the photo below:

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A big part of the change in percentages is from smaller graduating classes. The actual number of jobs obtained went down 4 percent. In 2015, 28,029 students had full-time long-term legal jobs compared to 2016 was only 26, 923. There were nearly 3,000 fewer students on the market in 2016.

Looking at all of the data, the school that graduates had the best chance of getting a job was at the University of Chicago Law School. The law school had 215 graduates last year, 93 percent of which were able to find full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage and not part of the school’s programs all within 10 months of graduation.

Right behind Chicago were Duke Law School and Columbia Law School with 92 percent of their class of 2016 graduates in full-time, long-term bar passage requiring jobs. The other top five schools were the University of Michigan and Cornell Law School at 91 percent and 90 percent. See more information in the charts below:

Bruce Elvin, the associate dean of career and professional development at Duke’s law school noted that everyone in their law community works together to help their students find jobs. Being a relatively small school allows them to provide such individual attention to their students. This begins during a student’s first year. They meet with a career services advisor at least three times during the year to start the groundwork for their job search. Elvin said, “Everybody is committed to helping each student launch his or her career in the right job. It’s the dean. It’s faculty. It’s alumni. It’s staff. It’s friends. It’s students helping each other.”

The school with the highest percentage of graduates in either a J.D. advantage or bar-passage required job was the University of Pennsylvania Law School at 96 percent. Penn Law Dean Theodore Ruger said, “We’re very pleased our 2016 graduates, like their cohorts in recent years, did so well securing employment in law firms, public interest organizations, judicial clerkships, government and in rewarding ‘JD Advantage’ fields like investment banking and consulting.”

Trying to understand why fewer graduates are being hired is difficult. Many law professors’ study and blog about the trends they find in employment trends. One such professor, Jerome Organ at University of St. Thomas School of Law believes a big factor in the employment rates are the bar pass rates which have been declining. Organ wrote on Tax Prof Blog, “Part of the continuing decline in the number of graduates in full-time, long-term bar passage required positions is attributable to the decline in the number and percentage of graduates passing the July bar exam.” Since 2013, the number of graduates that pass the bar exam on their first attempt has dropped from 82 percent to 74 percent. This means there are fewer graduates eligible for many of the jobs within the 10-month time frame.

Charlotte School of Law had the highest rate of unemployed graduates from the class of 2016 at 31 percent.

Would this data play a big role for you in deciding what law school to attend? Tell us what you would look for in a law school in the comments below.

To learn more about the top-rated law schools, read these articles:

Cover Photo:

Data Photos: American Bar Association



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