Employment up 11 percent for UF Law grads

Published: April 14th, 2014

Category: News

HandDiplomaBy Jenna Box (4JM)

UF Law’s Center for Career Development has always been dedicated to providing law students the tools necessary to embark upon successful career paths after graduation, and lately it’s been on an upward climb when it comes to improving placement outcomes for graduates.

Though UF Law dropped slightly in the U.S. News & World Report 2014 rankings, the jobs data used in those rankings are no longer the most current data available. The 2014 rankings were calculated with data from the Class of 2012, and since that time the Class of 2013’s numbers have greatly improved.

CCD Director Rob Birrenkott noted that in 2012, UF Law was only 2 percentage points below the national average in terms of full-time jobs that required bar passage, which didn’t mark a drastic departure from where UF Law was in 2011. Although the national average for 2013 has not yet been released, Birrenkott said that if it stays the same as last year, UF Law will have closed that gap: The Class of 2013’s average would be 9 percentage points above the national average.

Change was a common theme in 2012, as the Center for Career Development Office turned over about half of its staff over the course of a month, while externally the legal job market took a radical turn. For many years, large law firms offered significantly more jobs than any other sector of the entry-level legal job market, and UF Law was at an advantage since large-firm hiring was a strength of the school. While it is no secret that every sector of the legal market dropped in hiring over the course of the Great Recession, most sectors had made a recovery by 2012. The big law sector had yet to make a full recovery by 2012, which made entry-level jobs harder for Class of 2012 graduates to find. That year, for the first time in 20 years, small firms beat large firms in entry-level hiring.

After seeing this trend, the Career Development office worked consciously to increase small-firm and government hiring opportunities for students while at the same time filling vacant staff positions in the office. The office hosted a government career-oriented panel led by a Washington, D.C., alumni group and organizing and distributing a small-firm chart with UF Law alumni contact information on it.

The Career Development office also brought on a new hire and changed its structure.

“We brought in a counselor who was intentionally focused on graduates who hadn’t found jobs yet because the job search was taking longer.” Birrenkott said. “[We wanted to make it] clear that our commitment to students wouldn’t end at graduation — it would go on indefinitely until they found a job.”

And the efforts paid off: UF Law’s Class of 2013 saw an increase of 43 percent from the Class of 2012 in securing small firm jobs (from 42 to 60), and an increase of 40 percent in securing government jobs (from 42 to 59).

Most notably, Birrenkott said, was that in one year the percentage of the class that attained full-time, bar-passage required jobs increased by 11 percent. This data will be reflected in the U.S. News & World Reports rankings in 2015.

The gains made by the Class of 2013 were not solely because of the the Career Development Office, Birrenkott added. “The graduates worked really hard ….They deserve a lot of the credit themselves.”

The office is currently focusing on off-campus interview days and job fairs in cities, including, but not limited to, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and Washington, D.C.

UF Law publishes an analysis of hiring statistics nine months after graduation. The latest complete report of data can be found at www.law.ufl.edu/career/employment-statistics.