Friday, May 27, 2011

Jobs in and out of the law

Back on March 4 and March 18, I wrote in part about KU Law's "bar passage required" employment statistics. As an update, I thought it would be useful to also delve into KU Law and national statistics for other employment categories.

While most law students enroll with the goal of practicing law, by graduation some have decided to pursue less traditional, "JD preferred" jobs or other professional positions that do not require the passage of a bar exam. Also, some third-year students and graduates who would prefer a "bar admission required" position begin to explore the "JD preferred" market as a way of diversifying their job search.

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) defines a "bar admission required position” as a job that requires the graduate pass the bar and be licensed to practice law. These jobs may be in a law firm, business, government or non-profit setting. This category also includes judicial clerks and positions which require the individual to pass the bar after being hired.

A "JD preferred" job is one for which the employer sought an individual with a JD, and perhaps even required a JD, but the job itself does not require bar passage, an active law license, or involve practicing law. Examples of jobs for which a JD is preferred (and may even be required) include corporate contracts administrator, government regulatory analyst, FBI special agent and jobs with legal publishers.

An "other professional position" is one that requires professional skills or training but in which a JD is not required and may not, in some cases, be particularly applicable. Examples of these positions are teacher, business manager and nurse.

Finally, a "non-professional" position is one that does not require any special professional skills or training.

In the KU Law Class of 2009, 97 students reported accepting jobs requiring bar passage, representing 62 percent of grads for whom employment status was known. Ninety four (94) of these positions were full time, while three were part time.

Nationally, 71 percent of law students in the Class of 2009 for whom employment status was known reported accepting a job requiring bar passage.

The same overall number (97) reported accepting jobs requiring bar passage in the KU Law Class of 2010, or 59 percent of graduates for whom employment status is known. Ninety-five (95) of these positions were full time, while two were part time.

National numbers for the Class of 2010 will be available from NALP in the next few weeks.

Below is a breakdown of the four categories of employment statistics defined above over the last eight years. The percentage represents the number of students employed in each category divided by the total number of known graduates.

The KU Law figure is in black, while the national figure is in red.

Graduation Year 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
Bar Admission Required 62%
71%
75%
75%
73%
77%
69%
75%
69%
74%
72%
73%
66%
74%
72%
75%
JD Preferred 8%
9%
7%
8%
13%
8%
15%
8%
15%
8%
10%
8%
13%
7%
13%
5%
Other Professional 10%
5%
3%
5%
7%
5%
8%
5%
8%
5%
2%
5%
5%
6%
6%
6%
Non-Professional 4%
3%
1%
1%
1%
1%
2%
1%
3%
1%
3%
1%
1%
2%
1%
2%

Over this eight-year period, our "bar admission required" employment percentage has been lower than the national average every year but one (2008), while our "JD preferred" employment percentage has been higher than the national average in all but two years. In the six years in which KU Law students were employed in "JD preferred" positions at a higher rate than the national average, our statistic was on average just under six percentage points higher than the national figure.

Our "other professional" employment percentage has been higher than the national average four times in the last eight years, and equal to or lower than national average four times. Our "non-professional" employment percentage is a similar wash — it has been higher than the national average four times in the last eight years, and equal to or lower four times.

KU Law grads in "JD preferred" positions are using their degrees to pursue a career in which a JD is highly valued and perhaps even required, but the job does not require an active law license or the practice of law.

For example, graduates in the Class of 2010 accepted "JD preferred" positions with advocacy organizations; accounting firms; business consulting firms; NCAA member institutions; members of Congress; federal agencies such as the State Department, the Patent and Trademark Office, and the Army Corp of Engineers; and the World Bank.

Here's an article about alternative jobs for law school graduates: http://ow.ly/52s2W

Todd Rogers, Assistant Dean for Career Services

1 comment:

  1. I read the disturbing news about KU Law's 23% decline in applications as well as the bleak employment picture. Has the law school considered potential solutions? One thought I have is to have either specialized JD programs (such as tax, litigation, environmental) or to have combined JD, LL.M. programs. This could reduce the number of JD only students, while using the resources and faculty of the Law School to make more competitive graduates.

    Ron Cappuccio, L '76

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