State's two law schools see job rates drop 4 pct.

National employment rate for jobs requiring bar passage is 62.3 percent

By Kristi Tousignant
The Daily Record

BALTIMORE (AP) — Fewer students graduating from Maryland’s two law schools are finding jobs, but a greater number are obtaining employment that requires bar passage, according to data from the American Bar Association.

About 86 percent of the University of Baltimore School of Law’s class of 2012 found employment by March of last year, a drop of four percentage points from 2011, according to the ABA’s annual employment report. The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law’s total employment fell by a smaller amount, from 92 percent to 91 percent.

For jobs requiring bar passage, however, the law schools are showing a marked improvement.

About 55 percent of UB Law students found jobs requiring bar passage in 2012, compared to 48 percent the year before. At UM Carey, 63 percent of 2012 graduates found such jobs, up from 47 percent the previous year.

“Frankly, we think we are holding our own in a tough market,” said UB Law Dean Ron Weich.

The number of unemployed students went up nationally, with 10.6 percent listed as seeking jobs or unemployed. (The national employment rate for jobs requiring bar passage was 62.3 percent.)

The law schools in Maryland followed that trend — UB Law’s unemployment rate rose from 6 percent to 12 percent in 2012, and UM Carey’s unemployment rate increased from 5 percent to 7.2 percent.

Teresa LaMaster, associate dean for planning and external affairs with UM Carey, indicated that economic conditions are playing a role.

“We are very pleased we continue to make progress in a very difficult economy for lawyers,” she said.

Weich agreed.

“In this region, there are significant changes in the legal profession,” he said. “Firms are not hiring the same number of associates they used to hire. Government agencies are not able to spend the money they used to spend. That is affecting the profession generally.”

The report’s data, however captures a snapshot of students’ job status between February and March of last year. Kerri Smith, a 2012 UB Law graduate, said most of her classmates found jobs a little later — by spring this year.

Smith, for example, did not have a full-time job upon graduation last year. She had been clerking for Silverman ‘ Thompson ‘ Slutkin ‘ White LLC while taking the bar exam and awaiting her results.

She was hired as an associate by the Baltimore firm in March.

“I didn’t ever look seriously anywhere else,” she said. “I never interviewed anywhere else.”

Smith said there was a period in January and February, after induction to the Maryland Bar in December, when she and her classmates were panicked about finding work.

“By January and February, everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, we are attorneys now. Where are we going to work?’” she said.

Smith said many of her classmates who have been working as clerks for judges will only begin to look for new jobs this year, after their clerkships end.

Clerkships are one of the choice positions students at both UB Law and UM Carey secure ahead of graduation. Clerkships attracted the largest group of employed students at UM Carey (60 of a graduating class of 319) and the second-largest at UB Law (52 of a graduating class of 343).

Y. Ajoke Agboola, who graduated from UM Carey in 2012, took a clerkship with Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Marcella A. Holland last year. Agboola will be done with her clerkship in November, when Holland retires.

She has started looking for jobs and has applied to four different government positions focused on her areas of interest, real estate and land use.

“It’s still tough out there,” she said. “It helps having a year under your belt.”

She has been selective so far, though, and will broaden her range in September as her clerkship end-date gets closer, she said.

“There’s some days where I do get very worried, but not many days,” Agboola said.

At this point, she said, about 99 percent of the people she knows from her graduating class have found jobs, though a few are doing contract work.

“I think that the students are being very proactive and doing a fantastic job at job searches,” LaMaster said.

Last year marked the first time the ABA added categories to the report to distinguish between the kinds of jobs graduates found, like whether bar passage is required and if the position was full or part-time.

The data were collected between February and March this year. Before last year, data were collected earlier, between August and October.

One new category includes jobs where a J.D. is an advantage, such as government policy positions. About 19 percent of students at UM Carey and 26 percent at UB Law obtained those kinds of positions. Both are above the national average of 13 percent.

“The law school has a long history of students interested in private practice and public policy and government service,” LaMaster said. “That is why J.D.-advantage jobs, which are often legislative policy analysts or working in the legislative branch or working at a nonprofit organization, are really important to us.”

UB Law plans to decrease its class size next year, a move Weich said will help improve the job rate numbers.

“We have been focused in a very aggressive way on career development,” he said. “In the past year, I have been spending a very significant portion of time with the assistant dean of career development and staff to make sure we are doing everything we can to make students aware of job opportunities.”

UM Carey, meanwhile, will continue to focus on reaching out to small and mid-size firms and helping students diversify their portfolios, LaMaster said.

“We want all of students to be employed at the end of their nine months,” LaMaster said. “We are always working with them to try to create more opportunities and give resources that they need to find the kind of job they really want to have.”

The change in ABA employment reporting was also implemented to reveal whether schools were hiring their own graduates to improve their job rate numbers.

UM Carey hired 25 of its graduates from the class of 2012, down from 32 the previous year. Only five UB Law graduates were employed by the university in 2012 and there were four in 2011.

The greatest number of students in UB Law’s 2012 class took jobs with law firms with between two to 10 lawyers (84), followed by clerkships and positions in government (46) and business and industry (45).
At UM Carey, the largest chunk of graduates went to judicial clerkships, followed by positions in business and industry (52) and government (46).