Graduate Job Stats Improving, But More Work To Be Done

by Jaime Welsh

UConn Law Graduation 2013

It’s hard to ignore on campus that many students are feeling the stress of securing summer associate positions and post-graduation employment. The most recent jobs data for the class of 2012 shows an increase from the 2011 numbers, but UConn Law still lags behind the national average for students in JD-required positions.

For nine months post-graduation, of the 199 graduates in 2012, 114 secured employment in a “bar passage required” position; 36 graduates secured “J.D. advantage” positions; 17graduates had “professional positions;” 2 secured a “non-professional position;” 5 graduates were “not seeking” a job; 5 graduates were pursuing a graduate degree full time; and 15 graduates were “unemployed and seeking” a job. There were five graduates whose employment status was unknown.

In comparison with the Class of 2011’s statistics, it appears that the job market is improving slightly. There were 4.22% more graduates in bar passage required positions in 2012 than in 2011. There were 2.45% more graduates in J.D. advantage positions in 2012 than in 2011. And there were .28% less graduates unemployed seeking a position in 2012 than in 2011.

So how does UConn Law measure up nationally? Comparing the Class of 2012’s employment data with the ABA’s employment statistics for 2012 graduates, UConn Law has a lower percentage of graduates in bar passage required positions (57.29% compared to 62.3% nationally), but more graduates in J.D. advantage positions (18.09% compared to 12.9% nationally). Further, UConn’s percentage of unemployed graduates seeking a position is lower than the national percentage (7.54% compared to 10.6% nationally). It should be noted that the law school uses NALP guidelines in computing statistics, and the ABA has their own guidelines to calculate national numbers, but the resulting differences are minor.

Michele Hoff, Associate Director of UConn Law’s Career Planning Center, explained that the job market is simply different than it used to be. More students are finding jobs through self-initiated contact and networking, Hoff said. She explained that these outreach methods are similar to how attorneys find their second and third jobs, so these students are positioning themselves well for the next job down the line.

For the Class of 2012, there were more opportunities than years before, but there were fewer large firm positions. Hoff explained that graduates were finding more “entrepreneurial opportunities,” with smaller firms seeking a good fit and someone who wants a long-term position. But overall more graduates were taking jobs that were transitional rather than permanent first steps.

For the Class of 2013, Hoff said that it is too early to get a real sense of employment statistics, yet there were “improvements because the economy is better.” Hoff said that there were more graduates with clerkships and that, although there are still fewer graduates going to big firms, the ones who do get those positions are seeing shorter delays in receiving an offer. Further, Career Planning saw more graduates who looked for, and who are still looking for, J.D. advantage jobs rather than pure private practice. Hoff predicts that “the percentage of students going into private practice [will] continu[e] to be lower than it has historically been as there are fewer Big Law opportunities for students.”

As for current students, Fall OCI is coming to a close. Hoff stated that we had about the same number of firms participating as in 2012, and more than in 2011. Further, there were overall more resume collect opportunities than either year. For summer associate positions, there were 15 employers interviewing on-campus in August and another 16 interviewing in September. There were 12 additional opportunities to interview off-campus in August: three employers in New York and nine employers in Boston. It is too early to determine if job offers are any more numerous than in the past.

One change that Career Planning has seen is in the employer profile of who is interviewing UConn Law students. Hoff said that they are seeing some new employers coming to OCI, even though some of the bigger law firms may not be hiring.

One of the struggles that students have had with OCI is scheduling September interviews and call-back invitations around classes. Career Planning will be speaking to firms in November, and they are planning to ask whether logistically we can hold interviews about a week earlier. This would avoid many of those conflicts, but the deadline for bidding may then cause problems for students who want to list journal membership on their resumes. Journal offers typically are not made until the end of July.