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W&L Law Releases New Employment Report

Washington and Lee University’s School of Law is reporting a significant increase in employment rates for its class of 2014.

Data from the Office of Career Strategy show a one-year increase of 11 percent and an increase of 18 percent over two years ago.

According to the report, almost 75 percent of the class of 2014 has secured a full-time, long-term job that either requires a J.D. degree or for which a J.D. degree is preferred. The report measures employment 10 months after graduation.

For comparison, the employment rates in these categories for the classes of 2013 and 2012 were 63.6 percent and 56.9 percent, respectively.

The overall employment rate for the class, including all employment types, is almost 83 percent. When students getting LL.M. degrees and one student with a deferred start date are included, more than 88 percent of the class are working or in graduate school.

Cliff Jarrett ’91L, assistant dean for career strategy, believes a number of factors explain the significant improvement in employment outcomes in recent years.

“First, I credit our students with hard work and commitment to their job searches,” says Jarrett. “Students entering law school in recent years are well aware of the challenges in the legal market, and our students have risen to that challenge by following through on the things, big and small, that lead to great employment opportunities.”

Nora Demleitner, the dean of the law school, also gives credit to a shift in strategy within the career office.

“Cliff Jarrett, who joined us from the legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa after a distinguished career as a partner in a law firm, has moved toward an executive search model to help law students find jobs,” says Demleitner. “The change has been exceptionally well received by both our students and the legal employment market.”

Jarret adds “The investment that our office, our faculty and our alumni have made in counseling and matching students with employment opportunities is making a real difference. This individualized approach for both employers and students is consistent with the history and mission of W&L Law and is one of the many advantages of our size.”

The employment report, available online, was prepared in accordance with requirements of the American Bar Association and includes summary data about the employment status of the 127 graduates in the class of 2014.

The report shows graduates working in a diverse and balanced range of jobs. Approximately 12 percent are in large law firms of over 500 lawyers, 11 percent are in firms with 26 to 500 lawyers, and roughly 13 percent are in small firms of 2-25 lawyers. About 12 percent are working in government, 8 percent in business or industry, and 5 percent in public interest jobs such as legal aid offices.

(Related: Where W&L Law Students Are Working (PDF Document)

One particular area of strength for W&L Law has always been placement in federal and state clerkships, and this remains the case for the class of 2014. More than 13% of the class is in a clerkship, including placements in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, seven federal district courts and the Michigan Supreme Court.

The top four geographic areas for employment are Virginia, New York, the District of Columbia and California. The law school funded only one long-term, full-time position for the class. This funding went to a student who is the law clerk for the Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court.

Jarrett says the employment outlook for the Class of 2015, the current third-year class, is equally strong. Over 57 percent of the class has already secured long-term, full-time J.D. required or J.D. advantage jobs, a month before graduation. These are the job types that the ABA has identified as the most desirable employment outcomes for students, though many students seek jobs beyond these criteria based on their career objectives.

“Our students continue to excel in finding the work they want, where they want to be,” says Jarrett. “With the continued involvement of our faculty, alumni and administration, we are optimistic that this upward trend in employment will continue.”

(Related: Students report on employment success in criminal law, judicial clerkships, and the JAG Corps)