What happens to a summer associate class at a large law firm after a decade?

Back in the summer of 2006, I was a summer associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago. We had 70 summer associates that year, and we received a facebook of everyone across the firm. Most returned in 2007, but I returned after my clerkship in 2008 to work at the firm until 2010—I worked with phenomenally talented attorneys and learned an incredible amount, particularly through participating in a long jury trial. I was given extraordinary responsibility fairly quickly. (I made my share of mistakes attributable to my youth and inexperience, too.) I came out of the experience all the better.

In 2011, I looked through the facebook at who was at the firm and who’d left—of course, some never came back after that summer (I know a few who took jobs elsewhere even after receiving an offer), and the financial crisis exerted significant pressure on many of my colleagues. But by March 2011, there were just 26 associates from that summer class who were working at the firm. By November 2015, that number had dwindled to 8. Four still remain 13 years after that summer (or 12 years after most of them graduated and began)—and two just became share partners (congrats!).

Once or twice a year from 2011 onward, I’d check to see the updates. Those check-ins are charted below. The dotted line from 2006 to 2011 reflects the fact that not all summer associates returned to the firm. But it provides some perspective for those who are participating in OCI this year to think about what life in a decade (or 12 or 13 years…) might look like. It's probably typical of many law firms: there’s simply a lot of movement these days.

Patent bar exam results have been declining alongside state bar exam pass rates

Bar exam pass rates have fallen and remained relatively low for several years. The National Conference of Bar Examiners noted long ago that Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam scores had been declining, which hinted at a future slide in state bar exam pass rates in the future—even though the MPRE is independent of the state bar exam.

I recently discovered that the United States Patent and Trademark Office publishes patent bar pass rates. From my understanding, this bar is most commonly taken by law students or recent graduates. Test-takers are those who intend to do certain patent legal practice before the USPTO. Test-takers have declined in recent years, consistent with the decline in overall law school enrollment.

I noted that patent bar pass rates have declined in recent years alongside state bar pass rates. I took the first-time overall state bar pass rates against the patent bar pass rates.

It’s another indication of an overall concern about the ability of law school graduates, regardless of the form of the test or the area of examination, to pass—and an indication that law schools need to consider solutions apart from content-specific or state bar exam-specific concerns.

MBE scores improve for July 2019 exam

The National Conference of Bar Examiners recently shared that mean Mulistate Bar Exam scores have improved for the July 2019 test—and the biggest improvement in over a decade.

Coming off a 34-year-low in MBE scores, the news is welcome. First-time test-takers were roughly the same over the July 2018 and July 2019 exams, which is also good news—it likely means first-time pass rates will improve, at least modestly, in most jurisdictions. Still, the median 141.5 score is a far cry from the July 2018 administration, which had a 145.6 score. Schools continue to see higher-than-hoped failure rates because admissions and retention practices still haven’t kept pace with changes in student quality. Whether this July is a turning point for future years remains to be seen—pessimistically, the turn in July 2017 scores didn’t portend much good news for July 2018, but time will tell.

Law school median and mean debt loads, 2015-2017

The Department of Education has been releasing more disclosures to the public concerning higher education. Its most recent data disclosures include preliminary student loan debt loads over a two-year period, 2015-2017.

One useful piece of information is the median debt loads of students who incurred debt. USNWR discloses schools’ self-reported mean debt loads, although those figures are sometimes less than helpful due to school disclosure irregularities. But the mean may distort what a typical student’s loans look like, if a large batch of students borrow just a few dollars to cover perhaps the end of law school. That could artificially lower the mean, whereas the median law student may have much higher debt loads. (It could also work the other way.)

The Department of Education tables include both median and mean debt loads. Granted, this data, while better than the self-reported USNWR data, still has its share of flaws. I looked up every “law” program—many reported the degrees differently, usually “Doctoral Degree” or “First Professional Degree,” but I removed every self-described “Master’s Degree” program. I sorts the schools by median debt load. Included are the school types (public, private, and “proprietary” i.e., for-profit). Also included are the “count” of individuals in the two-year cohort (and you can view more about how the “count” and other terms are defined). The count includes those who completed the program in that time period. (Some were listed as “Privacy Suppressed,” which I converted to “n/a.”) Recall, too, that these are only those who incurred debt; a good number of students graduate each year without incurring law schools. (For a sense of those figures, check out the latest USNWR disclosures. Many schools report that at least 20% of their graduates, sometimes more, incur no debt.)

I’ll start with the top 20 schools in median debt.

Law School School Type Count Median Debt
Florida Coastal School Of Law Proprietary 476 $198,655
Whittier College Private 237 $196,008
Thomas Jefferson School Of Law Private 337 $195,892
University Of San Francisco Private n/a $195,820
Southwestern Law School Private 540 $193,653
Charlotte School Of Law Proprietary n/a $188,985
Arizona Summit Law School Proprietary 272 $188,191
New York University Private 570 $183,857
Atlanta's John Marshall Law School Proprietary 287 $177,854
American University (The) Private 588 $177,157
Barry University Private 365 $168,309
New York Law School Private 414 $167,078
Golden Gate University Private 166 $166,264
Columbia University Private 513 $165,314
Georgetown University Private 937 $163,688
George Washington University Private 804 $163,300
Thomas M. Cooley Law School Private 641 $161,986
Pepperdine University Private n/a $161,300
Nova Southeastern University Private 133 $161,219
Santa Clara University Private 231 $160,558

Four for-profit schools are in the top 20. The remainder are in California (7), New York (3), the DC area (3), and Florida (2), along with Thomas M. Cooley Law School. (It’s also worth noting that Whittier, Charlotte, and Arizona Summit have announced their closures.)

Now for the bottom 20 schools, the ones with the lowest median debt among those who incurred debt:

Law School School Type Count Median Debt
Texas Tech University Public 185 $70,006
University Of Kentucky Public 194 $69,860
Temple University Public 308 $69,583
Georgia State University Public 293 $69,200
University Of Connecticut Public 214 $69,085
University Of Alabama Public 174 $68,992
Wayne State University Public 175 $67,640
University Of Kansas Public 170 $66,415
Mitchell Hamline School Of Law Private 409 $64,429
University Of Mississippi Public 167 $64,300
University Of Iowa Public 167 $62,249
University Of Arkansas Public 178 $61,500
University Of North Dakota Public 90 $61,500
University Of Tennessee Public 191 $61,500
University Of Wisconsin - Madison Public 263 $61,500
Taft University System (The) Proprietary 27 $61,500
Indiana Institute Of Technology Private 26 $59,650
University Of Nebraska Public 159 $59,124
Brigham Young University Private n/a $51,250
Santa Barbara And Ventura Colleges Of Law Private 36 $20,500

Unsurprisingly, most are public schools, many in lower cost-of-living locations. But near the bottom of the list are a pair of non-ABA-accredited law schools in California (Taft, and Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law), with relatively (in one case, quite) low reported debt loads. At the bottom of the list among ABA-accredited schools is the private BYU, at just $51,250 median debt load.

The entire table is below the jump. Additionally, I included the same table with the mean debt, too. Of course, recall that any data like this, particularly “preliminary,” may have inaccuracies, and some of the coding may mean that I’m inadvertently including or excluding certain institutions.

UPDATE: At least one school was incorrectly reported as “private” when it is “public.” I have made that change.


Law School School Type Count Median Debt
Florida Coastal School Of Law Proprietary 476 $198,655
Whittier College Private 237 $196,008
Thomas Jefferson School Of Law Private 337 $195,892
University Of San Francisco Private n/a $195,820
Southwestern Law School Private 540 $193,653
Charlotte School Of Law Proprietary n/a $188,985
Arizona Summit Law School Proprietary 272 $188,191
New York University Private 570 $183,857
Atlanta's John Marshall Law School Proprietary 287 $177,854
American University (The) Private 588 $177,157
Barry University Private 365 $168,309
New York Law School Private 414 $167,078
Golden Gate University Private 166 $166,264
Columbia University Private 513 $165,314
Georgetown University Private 937 $163,688
George Washington University Private 804 $163,300
Thomas M. Cooley Law School Private 641 $161,986
Pepperdine University Private n/a $161,300
Nova Southeastern University Private 133 $161,219
Santa Clara University Private 231 $160,558
Elon University Private 77 $160,285
University Of The Pacific Private 244 $158,437
University Of Virginia Public 386 $158,376
Ave Maria School Of Law Private 115 $158,206
Howard University Private 219 $156,563
Northwestern University Private 329 $156,418
Seattle University Private 375 $155,575
Charleston School Of Law Proprietary 206 $154,378
Willamette University Private 182 $154,190
Marquette University Private 322 $154,154
John Marshall Law School (The) Private n/a $154,079
Cornell University Private n/a $153,937
Fordham University Private 428 $151,250
University Of California, Berkeley Public 433 $150,862
Touro College Private 228 $150,767
University Of Miami Private 388 $150,659
University Of Detroit Mercy Private 119 $149,993
University Of Pennsylvania Private 331 $149,729
Saint Thomas University Private n/a $149,322
California Western School Of Law Private 331 $149,246
Chapman University Private n/a $148,852
Hofstra University Private 328 $148,342
University Of Chicago (The) Private 268 $146,806
University Of Michigan - Ann Arbor Public 457 $145,182
Campbell University Private 196 $144,330
Loyola Marymount University Private 466 $144,200
University Of Denver Private 396 $143,237
Catholic University Of America (The) Private 195 $141,718
Loyola University Chicago Private 318 $141,244
Mercer University Private n/a $140,818
University Of La Verne Private 78 $140,182
Valparaiso University Private 241 $139,821
Duke University Private n/a $138,000
University Of California, Hastings College Of The Public 454 $137,787
Stetson University Private 444 $137,217
Samford University Private n/a $135,438
Southern Methodist University Private 283 $134,484
University Of San Diego Private 313 $134,348
Widener University Private 342 $134,228
Trinity International University Private n/a $133,925
Lewis & Clark College Private n/a $133,785
Harvard University Private 815 $133,617
Depaul University Private 363 $132,803
Creighton University Private 181 $132,800
Oklahoma City University Private n/a $132,586
South Texas College Of Law Houston Private 469 $132,415
Emory University Private 391 $131,738
University Of Notre Dame Private 279 $130,589
Loyola University New Orleans Private n/a $130,522
Western New England University Private n/a $129,662
University Of Southern California Private 283 $129,223
Capital University Private 172 $129,089
Vanderbilt University Private 235 $129,030
Suffolk University Private n/a $128,897
Mississippi College Private 196 $128,722
Yale University Private n/a $126,398
Seton Hall University Private 242 $126,050
Roger Williams University Private 169 $123,384
Tulane University Private 256 $121,757
University Of California, Los Angeles Public 469 $121,453
Belmont University Private n/a $120,498
Stanford University Private 250 $120,410
University Of Dayton Private n/a $120,274
University Of California, Irvine Public 67 $119,986
Texas A&M University Public 301 $119,803
Brooklyn Law School Private 544 $119,445
Regent University Private 134 $118,275
University Of Maryland, Baltimore Public 279 $118,155
Appalachian School Of Law Private 75 $117,964
Texas Southern University Public 249 $117,935
Drake University Private 76 $116,863
John F. Kennedy University Private n/a $116,722
Argosy University Proprietary 134 $114,795
George Mason University Public 174 $114,383
Wake Forest University Private 268 $113,656
Saint John's University Private 321 $112,662
University Of Minnesota - Twin Cities Public 315 $111,766
Yeshiva University Private 388 $111,031
Boston University Private 308 $110,891
Albany Law School Of Union University Private n/a $110,549
University Of Baltimore Public 363 $109,510
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapoli Public 122 $109,422
New England Law | Boston Private n/a $109,422
University Of Washington - Seattle Public 210 $109,405
Gonzaga University Private 176 $109,362
University Of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Public 302 $107,059
Saint Louis University Private n/a $106,638
University Of Texas At Austin Public 460 $106,283
Syracuse University Private 247 $106,000
Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University Public 150 $105,703
Northeastern University Private 231 $105,639
Florida International University Public n/a $104,971
Illinois Institute Of Technology Private 319 $104,921
Pace University Private 267 $102,821
University Of Massachusetts - Dartmouth Public n/a $102,500
St. Mary's University Private 341 $102,500
University Of South Carolina - Columbia Public 319 $102,007
University Of Colorado Boulder Public 268 $101,626
University Of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Public 247 $101,186
Boston College Private 306 $100,594
Ohio Northern University Private n/a $100,224
Inter American University Of Puerto Rico - School Private 325 $99,403
College Of William & Mary Public 309 $98,700
University Of Missouri - Kansas City Public 235 $98,511
University Of California, Davis Public 209 $98,403
Southern Illinois University At Carbondale Public 201 $98,215
University Of Richmond Private 230 $97,625
Washington And Lee University Private 146 $97,276
Pontifical Catholic University Of Puerto Rico Private 278 $97,269
Ohio State University (The) Public 264 $97,238
University Of The District Of Columbia Public 60 $96,992
Pennsylvania State University (The) Public 243 $96,321
Southern University And Agricultural & Mechanical Public 187 $95,437
University Of Louisville Public 156 $94,503
University Of Southern Maine Public 132 $94,364
North Carolina Central University Public 316 $94,358
Arizona State University Public n/a $94,325
University Of Nevada - Las Vegas Public 184 $94,197
Concordia University Private 43 $93,755
University Of Houston Public 302 $92,067
Baylor University Private n/a $91,401
Lincoln Memorial University Private n/a $91,323
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign Public n/a $90,928
State University Of New York At Buffalo Public 259 $90,928
Michigan State University College Of Law Private 425 $90,674
University Of New Hampshire Public n/a $89,700
Humphreys University Private 25 $89,317
University Of Oregon Public 180 $88,306
Drexel University Private 222 $87,864
University Of Idaho Public 193 $85,550
Indiana University - Bloomington Public 248 $85,162
University Of Florida Public 463 $84,508
Duquesne University Private 210 $84,428
University Of Saint Thomas Private 160 $84,261
West Virginia University Public 169 $84,227
University Of Wyoming Public 104 $84,032
University Of New Mexico Public n/a $83,999
Cleveland State University Public 179 $83,868
Villanova University Private 203 $83,761
Northern Illinois University Public 121 $83,660
Case Western Reserve University Private 171 $82,570
University Of Georgia Public 284 $82,480
Washburn University - Topeka Public 148 $82,194
Quinnipiac University Private 115 $82,000
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey Public n/a $82,000
University Of Toledo Public 142 $81,546
Washington University In St. Louis Private 269 $81,500
University Of Arizona (The) Public 162 $81,178
Florida State University Public 294 $81,159
Northern Kentucky University Public 136 $79,951
University Of Utah Public 187 $79,768
University Of South Dakota Public 109 $79,143
Cuny School Of Law '(The)' Public 151 $78,224
University Of Hawaii At Manoa Public 127 $77,849
University Of Arkansas At Little Rock Public 116 $77,208
University Of Montana (The) Public 134 $76,666
University Of Memphis (The) Public 159 $76,622
Purdue University Global Public 74 $76,508
University Of Cincinnati Public 140 $76,173
Massachusetts School Of Law At Andover Private n/a $75,467
University Of Tulsa (The) Private 116 $75,326
University Of Oklahoma Public n/a $74,250
University Of Akron (The) Public 184 $73,756
University Of Missouri - Columbia Public 168 $71,603
Louisiana State University Public 258 $71,422
Texas Tech University Public 185 $70,006
University Of Kentucky Public 194 $69,860
Temple University Public 308 $69,583
Georgia State University Public 293 $69,200
University Of Connecticut Public 214 $69,085
University Of Alabama Public 174 $68,992
Wayne State University Public 175 $67,640
University Of Kansas Public 170 $66,415
Mitchell Hamline School Of Law Private 409 $64,429
University Of Mississippi Public 167 $64,300
University Of Iowa Public 167 $62,249
University Of Arkansas Public 178 $61,500
University Of North Dakota Public 90 $61,500
University Of Tennessee Public 191 $61,500
University Of Wisconsin - Madison Public 263 $61,500
Taft University System (The) Proprietary 27 $61,500
Indiana Institute Of Technology Private 26 $59,650
University Of Nebraska Public 159 $59,124
Brigham Young University Private n/a $51,250
Santa Barbara And Ventura Colleges Of Law Private 36 $20,500
 
Law School School Type Count Mean Debt
Thomas Jefferson School Of Law Private 337 $190,263
Southwestern Law School Private 540 $187,494
Whittier College Private 237 $186,978
Florida Coastal School Of Law Proprietary 476 $182,215
Touro College Private n/a $178,607
University Of San Francisco Private n/a $176,289
Arizona Summit Law School Proprietary 272 $175,459
Charlotte School Of Law Proprietary n/a $172,517
New York University Private 570 $170,700
American University (The) Private 588 $166,187
Atlanta's John Marshall Law School Proprietary 287 $164,577
Georgetown University Private 937 $160,905
New York Law School Private 414 $160,222
Barry University Private 365 $156,543
Elon University Private 77 $155,958
Faulkner University Private 10 $154,834
Thomas M. Cooley Law School Private 641 $153,258
Golden Gate University Private 166 $153,104
Pepperdine University Private n/a $152,712
Columbia University Private 513 $151,400
Nova Southeastern University Private 133 $150,527
Ave Maria School Of Law Private 115 $150,525
John Marshall Law School (The) Private n/a $150,306
Howard University Private 219 $149,946
George Washington University Private 804 $149,904
University Of Virginia Public 386 $149,871
Willamette University Private 182 $148,864
Santa Clara University Private 231 $148,759
Saint Thomas University Private n/a $147,706
Touro College Private 228 $147,305
Fordham University Private 428 $147,020
Northwestern University Private 329 $146,926
University Of Miami Private 388 $146,684
California Western School Of Law Private 331 $146,536
University Of Pennsylvania Private 331 $146,402
Loyola Marymount University Private 466 $146,358
Charleston School Of Law Proprietary 206 $145,354
University Of The Pacific Private 244 $144,881
Seattle University Private 375 $143,904
University Of Denver Private 396 $143,871
University Of California, Berkeley Public 433 $143,418
Cornell University Private n/a $143,335
Marquette University Private 322 $142,402
Hofstra University Private 328 $140,548
Chapman University Private n/a $140,055
University Of La Verne Private 78 $139,824
Catholic University Of America (The) Private 195 $139,404
Mercer University Private n/a $138,036
Harvard University Private 815 $136,746
University Of Detroit Mercy Private 119 $135,700
University Of Chicago (The) Private 268 $134,795
University Of Michigan - Ann Arbor Public 457 $134,538
Duke University Private n/a $133,131
Lewis & Clark College Private n/a $132,824
Campbell University Private 196 $131,858
Valparaiso University Private 241 $131,103
Loyola University Chicago Private 318 $130,973
Widener University Private 342 $130,489
Trinity International University Private n/a $130,446
Southern Methodist University Private 283 $129,977
Stetson University Private 444 $129,753
University Of San Diego Private 313 $129,427
Creighton University Private 181 $129,223
Suffolk University Private n/a $128,405
Samford University Private n/a $126,954
Seton Hall University Private 242 $126,918
Tulane University Private 256 $125,898
Loyola University New Orleans Private n/a $125,774
University Of California, Hastings College Of The Public 454 $125,545
Mississippi College Private 196 $125,458
Western New England University Private n/a $125,446
University Of Southern California Private 283 $124,796
Depaul University Private 363 $124,285
Oklahoma City University Private n/a $124,005
South Texas College Of Law Houston Private 469 $122,530
Capital University Private 172 $122,388
University Of Notre Dame Private 279 $120,935
Baylor University Private n/a $120,798
University Of California, Irvine Public 67 $120,742
Belmont University Private n/a $120,657
Stanford University Private 250 $119,935
Vanderbilt University Private 235 $119,460
Yale University Private n/a $119,139
Argosy University Proprietary 134 $119,071
Regent University Private 134 $118,765
New England Law | Boston Private n/a $118,727
Emory University Private 391 $118,187
Drake University Private 76 $117,875
John F. Kennedy University Private n/a $117,788
Roger Williams University Private 169 $117,507
University Of California, Los Angeles Public 469 $117,431
Texas A&M University Public 301 $116,569
Brooklyn Law School Private 544 $115,290
University Of Maryland, Baltimore Public 279 $115,234
Saint John's University Private 321 $114,793
Yeshiva University Private 388 $113,065
University Of Dayton Private n/a $111,690
University Of Baltimore Public 363 $111,218
Syracuse University Private 247 $110,287
St. Mary's University Private 341 $110,159
George Mason University Public 174 $110,086
Wake Forest University Private 268 $109,384
Texas Southern University Public 249 $109,359
Pace University Private 267 $108,729
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapoli Public 122 $107,843
Northeastern University Private 231 $107,260
Saint Louis University Private n/a $106,453
University Of Minnesota - Twin Cities Public 315 $105,304
Illinois Institute Of Technology Private 319 $105,102
University Of Washington - Seattle Public 210 $104,816
Appalachian School Of Law Private 75 $104,751
Gonzaga University Private 176 $104,061
Florida International University Public n/a $103,805
Hamline University Private n/a $103,549
Boston University Private 308 $103,412
Boston College Private 306 $103,300
Stetson University Private n/a $103,025
Albany Law School Of Union University Private n/a $102,647
University Of Massachusetts - Dartmouth Public n/a $102,166
University Of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Public 302 $102,039
University Of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Public 247 $100,937
University Of Colorado Boulder Public 268 $100,687
University Of Texas At Austin Public 460 $100,120
Washington And Lee University Private 146 $99,743
North Carolina Central University Public 316 $99,397
Ohio Northern University Private n/a $99,364
Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University Public 150 $99,241
University Of The District Of Columbia Public 60 $99,053
University Of Richmond Private 230 $98,256
Southern University And Agricultural & Mechanical Public 187 $97,877
University Of South Carolina - Columbia Public 319 $97,758
Duquesne University Private 210 $97,599
Pontifical Catholic University Of Puerto Ric Private 278 $97,174
Arizona State University Public n/a $96,920
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign Public n/a $96,195
Pennsylvania State University (The) Public 243 $96,103
Villanova University Private 203 $95,946
University Of New Hampshire Public n/a $95,723
College Of William & Mary Public 309 $95,654
Inter American University Of Puerto Rico - School Private 325 $95,175
University Of Houston Public 302 $94,515
Drexel University Private 222 $94,453
Ohio State University (The) Public 264 $94,210
University Of Nevada - Las Vegas Public 184 $93,899
Humphreys University Private 25 $93,865
Quinnipiac University Private 115 $93,726
University Of California, Davis Public 209 $93,667
University Of Louisville Public 156 $93,612
Indiana University - Bloomington Public 248 $93,379
University Of Missouri - Kansas City Public 235 $93,104
Michigan State University College Of Law Private 425 $92,924
State University Of New York At Buffalo Public 259 $92,108
University Of Southern Maine Public 132 $91,522
Concordia University Private 43 $90,995
Washington University In St. Louis Private 269 $90,881
Southern Illinois University At Carbondale Public 201 $90,584
Lincoln Memorial University Private n/a $89,830
Case Western Reserve University Private 171 $89,821
University Of Oregon Public 180 $88,748
University Of Idaho Public 193 $88,218
University Of Saint Thomas Private 160 $87,679
University Of Utah Public 187 $87,311
University Of Wyoming Public 104 $87,084
Cleveland State University Public 179 $87,010
Northern Illinois University Public 121 $86,582
University Of Hawaii At Manoa Public 127 $85,910
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey Public n/a $85,182
Florida State University Public 294 $84,310
University Of Florida Public 463 $84,052
West Virginia University Public 169 $83,920
University Of Arizona (The) Public 162 $83,884
University Of South Dakota Public 109 $83,322
University Of Tulsa (The) Private 116 $83,107
Louisiana State University Public 258 $82,907
University Of Georgia Public 284 $82,605
Washburn University - Topeka Public 148 $81,972
University Of Oklahoma Public n/a $81,629
Alliant International University Proprietary n/a $81,410
University Of Memphis (The) Public 159 $81,224
Northern Kentucky University Public 136 $81,164
University Of Toledo Public 142 $81,143
University Of New Mexico Public n/a $80,068
Concordia University Private n/a $79,498
Texas Tech University Public 185 $79,436
University Of Kentucky Public 194 $79,160
University Of Akron (The) Public 184 $78,953
Temple University Public 308 $78,731
Massachusetts School Of Law At Andover Private n/a $78,433
Wayne State University Public 175 $78,042
Liberty University Private n/a $77,218
University Of Montana (The) Public 134 $76,804
University Of Alabama Public 174 $76,753
University Of Kansas Public 170 $76,195
Mitchell Hamline School Of Law Private 409 $74,963
University Of Tennessee Public 191 $74,744
Cuny School Of Law '(The)' Public 151 $74,724
Purdue University Global Public 74 $72,513
University Of Cincinnati Public 140 $72,453
University Of Arkansas At Little Rock Public 116 $72,079
University Of Iowa Public 167 $71,536
University Of Wisconsin - Madison Public 263 $71,525
University Of Connecticut Public 214 $70,787
University Of Missouri - Columbia Public 168 $70,657
Georgia State University Public 293 $69,753
University Of Arkansas Public 178 $67,448
University Of Mississippi Public 167 $66,247
Indiana Institute Of Technology Private 26 $65,639
University Of Nebraska Public 159 $62,485
University Of North Dakota Public 90 $62,151
Taft University System (The) Proprietary 27 $60,581
Brigham Young University Private n/a $51,245
Santa Barbara And Ventura Colleges Of Law Private 36 $30,506

Overall legal employment for the Class of 2018 improved somewhat

Despite poor, and in some cases declining, bar passage rates in many jurisdictions over the last four years, we’ve seen steady overall improvement in the market for law school graduates, and the Class of 2018 is no exception. All trends are fairly positive, even if small, and even if some of those are driven by shrinking class sizes. Below are figures for the ABA-disclosed data (excluding Puerto Rico’s three law schools).

  Graduates FTLT BPR Placement FTLT JDA
Class of 2012 45,751 25,503 55.7% 4,218
Class of 2013 46,112 25,787 55.9% 4,550
Class of 2014 43,195 25,348 58.7% 4,774
Class of 2015 40,205 23,895 59.4% 4,416
Class of 2016 36,654 22,874 62.4% 3,948
Class of 2017 34,428 23,078 67.0% 3,121
Class of 2018 33,633 23,314 69.3% 3,123

Placement in bar passage-required jobs continued to improve, and graduates shrank. That put placement in full-time, long-term, bar passage-required jobs up to 69.3% (excluding school-funded positions). Unlike recent years, we also saw a small increase in J.D.-advantage position placement.

We can also compare the Class of 2018 to the Class of 2013—a recent high-water mark in total graduates and bar passage-required jobs (even if the percentage placed in those jobs was relatively low). We can look at placement by firm size, and by industry.

FTLT Class of 2013 Class of 2018 Net Delta
Solo 926 313 -613 -66.2%
2-10 6,947 4,999 -1948 -28.0%
11-25 1,842 1,689 -153 -8.3%
26-50 1,045 1,020 -25 -2.4%
51-100 846 821 -25 -3.0%
101-205 1,027 1,002 -25 -2.4%
251-500 1,041 949 -92 -8.8%
501+ 3,978 4,749 771 19.4%
Business/Industry 5,494 3,085 -2409 -43.8%
Government 4,360 3,860 -500 -11.5%
Public Interest 1,665 1,504 -161 -9.7%
Federal Clerk 1,259 1,174 -85 -6.8%
State Clerk 2,043 2,075 32 1.6%
Academia/Education 490 302 -188 -38.4%

The sharp demise of sole practitioners and small law firm placement is significant. Last year, I noted that placement in these positions might be the most at-risk when bar passage rates decline. Also of note is the decline in “business” jobs, which were typically J.D.-advantage positions and less desirable for graduates. Note, too, the continued rise of big law jobs—up nearly 800 placements since the Class of 2013. There had been some speculation during the recession that those jobs might be disappearing and that alternative positions would be needed for future classes, but this seems to be the healthiest market.

We can also compare the year-over-year placement in these job types, which are perhaps more volatile but still illuminating.

FTLT Class of 2017 Class of 2018 Net Delta
Solo 392 313 -79 -20.2%
2-10 5,145 4,999 -146 -2.8%
11-25 1,628 1,689 61 3.7%
26-50 953 1,020 67 7.0%
51-100 779 821 42 5.4%
101-205 956 1,002 46 4.8%
251-500 983 949 -34 -3.5%
501+ 4,569 4,749 180 3.9%
Business/Industry 3,241 3,085 -156 -4.8%
Government 3,812 3,860 48 1.3%
Public Interest 1,419 1,504 85 6.0%
Federal Clerk 1,151 1,174 23 2.0%
State Clerk 1,984 2,075 91 4.6%
Education 303 302 -1 -0.3%

Even year over year, we saw placement in large firms increase 180 positions, while solo and firms of 10 or fewer attorneys decline by over 220 positions.

Visualizing legal employment outcomes in California in 2018

This is the eighth and final in a series of visualizations on legal employment outcomes for the Class of 2018. Following posts on outcomes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Florida, DC-Maryland-Virginia, and New York, here is a visualization for legal employment outcomes of graduates of law schools in California for the Class of 2018. (More about the methodology is available at the Illinois post.) Last year's California post is here.

Please note, of course, that “J.D.-advantage” jobs may differ significantly from school to school, which may alter how one views the “overall” rate. (USNWR treats them as equivalent, but there are good reasons to think they may not be equivalent; and here, there are significant disparities among some schools and their J.D.-advantage placement.) And recall that I sort the table below to include school-funded positions, while the chart only includes unfunded positions. (It’s a reason I try to display the information in different ways!) The California market presented a mixed but somewhat positive picture. The closure of Whittier meant I removed it from the chart. Comparing all other schools year-to-year, graduates increased slightly from 3761 to 3804. And bar passage-required jobs increased slightly, too, from 2353 to 2405. But J.D. advantage jobs climbed at a faster rate, from 322 to 354, and school funded positions increased slightly. Placement among these schools rose from 73.3% to 74.9% in all positions.

As always, please notify me of any corrections or errata.

Peer Score School 2018 YoY% BPR JDA LSF Grads 2017 BPR JDA LSF Grads
4.9 Stanford University 96.9% 3.0 165 12 10 193 93.9% 163 15 7 197
4.4 University of California-Berkeley 95.8% 1.0 276 4 16 309 94.8% 269 6 14 305
4.1 University of California-Los Angeles 92.5% 0.0 257 19 20 320 92.5% 283 17 31 358
3.7 University of Southern California 87.3% -2.6 162 11 6 205 90.0% 179 4 5 209
3.5 University of California-Irvine 86.8% 0.4 85 3 11 114 86.5% 72 4 7 96
3.4 University of California-Davis 86.4% 2.0 135 8 10 177 84.4% 119 10 12 167
2.7 Loyola Law School-Los Angeles 85.7% 6.1 213 24 3 280 79.6% 204 31 3 299
3.1 University of California-Hastings 78.7% 11.2 178 28 12 277 67.5% 166 22 1 280
2.7 Pepperdine University 78.6% 2.8 114 18 0 168 75.8% 134 34 1 223
1.9 Chapman University 73.9% 5.6 75 24 0 134 68.2% 81 20 0 148
2.7 University of San Diego 72.3% 4.7 172 19 0 264 67.6% 121 17 0 204
2.5 Santa Clara University 68.7% 4.7 127 22 0 217 64.0% 77 10 0 136
1.9 McGeorge School of Law 63.9% 4.8 66 19 0 133 59.1% 62 16 0 132
1.8 Southwestern Law School 63.2% 4.6 128 39 1 266 58.6% 124 43 0 285
1.5 California Western School of Law 61.1% -3.3 86 32 0 193 64.5% 106 21 0 197
1.1 Western State College of Law 57.0% 4.9 49 8 0 100 52.1% 32 6 0 73
1.5 Golden Gate University 48.2% -3.5 27 11 2 83 51.7% 33 11 1 87
1.9 University of San Francisco 45.0% -15.8 49 26 1 169 60.8% 75 18 0 153
1.2 University of La Verne 43.1% 6.3 13 12 0 58 36.8% 12 2 0 38
nr Thomas Jefferson School of Law 29.9% -2.3 28 15 0 144 32.2% 41 15 0 174

Visualizing legal employment outcomes in New York in 2018

This is the seventh in a series of visualizations on legal employment outcomes for the Class of 2018. Following posts on outcomes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Florida, and DC-Maryland-Virginia, here is a visualization for legal employment outcomes of graduates of law schools in New York for the Class of 2018. (More about the methodology is available at the Illinois post.) Last year's New York post is here.

Please note, of course, that “J.D.-advantage” jobs may differ significantly from school to school, which may alter how one views the “overall” rate. (USNWR treats them as equivalent, but there are good reasons to think they may not be equivalent; and here, there are significant disparities among some schools and their J.D.-advantage placement.) And recall that I sort the table below to include school-funded positions, while the chart only includes unfunded positions. (It’s a reason I try to display the information in different ways!) The market showed improvement for the Class of 2018. Bar passage-required jobs rose from 2786 to 2882; J.D.-advantage rose slightly and school funded positions fell slightly. And while total graduates increased slightly to 3689, the improvement in bar passage-required positions helped increase placement from 84.5% to 86.1%.

As always, please notify me of any corrections or errata.

Peer score School 2018 YoY% BPR JDA LSF Grads 2017 BPR JDA LSF Grads
4.6 New York University 96.7% -0.4 411 3 29 458 97.1% 429 11 30 484
4.7 Columbia University 96.4% 0.1 420 8 5 449 96.3% 401 2 13 432
4.3 Cornell University 93.4% -0.2 178 4 1 196 93.6% 186 2 1 202
2.3 St. John's University 91.6% 9.8 186 21 0 226 81.8% 154 21 0 214
3.3 Fordham University 88.4% 10.8 302 24 2 371 77.7% 245 23 3 349
2.8 Cardozo School of Law 84.9% -2.1 207 23 1 272 87.0% 234 20 0 292
2.2 Hofstra University 82.4% 1.4 186 11 0 239 81.0% 180 12 0 237
1.9 New York Law School 81.0% 6.7 167 52 2 273 74.3% 123 56 0 241
2.6 Brooklyn Law School 80.5% 0.3 245 48 0 364 80.2% 264 31 0 368
1.9 Pace University 79.5% -5.2 118 14 0 166 84.7% 127 17 0 170
2.0 Albany Law School 79.0% -1.0 86 8 0 119 80.0% 78 10 0 110
2.2 University of Buffalo-SUNY 78.1% 7.0 101 13 0 146 71.1% 93 15 0 152
2.3 Syracuse University 76.3% -2.9 116 16 0 173 79.2% 103 15 0 149
2.2 City University of New York 74.0% 2.7 64 7 0 96 71.3% 65 2 0 94
1.5 Touro College 70.2% -5.0 95 4 0 141 75.2% 104 11 0 153

Visualizing legal employment outcomes in DC-Maryland-Virginia in 2018

This is the sixth in a series of visualizations on legal employment outcomes for the Class of 2018. Following posts on outcomes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, and Florida, here is a visualization for legal employment outcomes of graduates of law schools in Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia for the Class of 2018. (More about the methodology is available at the Illinois post.) Last year's DC-Maryland-Virginia post is here.

Please note, of course, that “J.D.-advantage” jobs may differ significantly from school to school, which may alter how one views the “overall” rate. And recall that I sort the table below to include school-funded positions, while the chart only includes unfunded positions. (It’s a reason I try to display the information in different ways!) The market showed improvement for the Class of 2018. Bar passage-required jobs rose from 2318 to 2367; J.D.-advantage and school funded positions both fell slightly. There were more than 100 fewer graduates in this class, helping raise the overal employment rate from 80.3% to 83.9%. (Of note are four schools with fewer than 70 graduates each.)

As always, please notify me of any corrections or errata.

Peer score School 2018 YoY% BPR JDA LSF Grads 2017 BPR JDA LSF Grads
4.4 University of Virginia 97.7% 1.0 277 3 12 299 96.6% 271 7 8 296
4.2 Georgetown University 91.2% 2.2 532 28 33 650 89.0% 504 40 40 656
3 University of Maryland 88.9% 11.1 138 37 1 198 77.8% 108 36 3 189
3.3 William & Mary Law School 88.2% 7.5 149 16 0 187 80.8% 158 10 0 208
3.2 Washington & Lee University 87.6% 3.8 98 1 0 113 83.8% 79 4 0 99
3.5 George Washington University 84.0% 1.4 376 58 3 520 82.6% 422 69 9 605
2.7 George Mason University 83.9% 3.0 90 22 3 137 80.9% 92 26 5 152
2.7 University of Richmond 81.2% -0.7 118 29 0 181 81.9% 101 21 0 149
1.2 Liberty University 80.0% 11.0 32 4 0 45 69.0% 37 3 0 58
1.2 Regent University 77.3% 2.9 45 5 1 66 74.4% 46 10 2 78
2.1 University of Baltimore 77.0% 4.2 136 21 0 204 72.8% 136 27 0 224
2.6 Howard University 73.7% 3.8 80 17 1 133 69.9% 65 6 1 103
2.8 American University 73.6% 5.6 201 69 3 371 68.0% 197 56 0 372
1.5 District of Columbia 70.1% 4.0 26 20 1 67 66.2% 19 27 1 71
2.1 Catholic University of America 68.0% 4.1 56 10 0 97 64.0% 61 10 0 111
1.2 Appalachian School of Law 51.7% -7.8 13 2 0 29 59.5% 22 3 0 42