According to a Kaplan Bar Review survey* of over 1,200 law school graduates from the class of 2014, a strong majority of tomorrow’s attorneys give their alma maters strong marks overall: 40% of law school graduates gave their overall law school education an “A” (up from 37% in 2012), while 45% gave it a “B”. Only 11% gave their legal education a “C”; and a relatively small percentage (4%) scored it as below average or failing. And while law school grads gave their former JD programs generally favorable marks in a number of subcategories, there was one glaring exception: job placement. Following are the full results:
- On professor quality: Law school graduates were most generous in grading their instructors: more than half (52%) gave their professors an “A”, while 37% awarded them a “B” grade. Eight percent of graduates gave their professors a “C”, while “D” and “F” grades were only doled out by 1% respectively.
- On making them “practice-ready” for the workforce: Graduates also rated their former law schools highly in this category. 25% gave their schools an “A”, while 40% gave them a “B”. A “C” was given by 21%, while 9% assigned a “D” and 4% an “F”.
- On how worthwhile the financial investment was: Also good news for law schools: most graduates feel they’re getting their money’s worth. Twenty percent awarded an “A” to their alma maters, 33% a “B”, 27% a “C”, 11% a “D” and 9% an “F”. According to American Bar Association data, in 2013, average tuition at a public law school was $23,879 per year for in-state residents and $36,859 per year for non-state residents. The average tuition at private law schools was significantly more, at $41,984 per year.
- On helping them find jobs in the law industry: Of the categories surveyed, this was the only one to receive a double-digit percentage of “F”s: 15% of students flunked their law schools, while 17% gave their schools a “D”. Twenty-eight percent gave their schools a “C” grade; 27% gave it a “B”. Only 13% felt their schools merited an “A”. According to the American Bar Association, 57% of graduates from the class of 2013 were employed in long-term, full-time positions where passing the bar is required - slightly up from the class of 2012 - though that percentage varies widely by law school.
“Jobs are top of mind for law school graduates in what continues to be a challenging job market for new attorneys, so it’s not too surprising that students are tough graders on this front,” said Steven Marietti, vice president and general manager, Kaplan Bar Review. “The survey tells us that students are happy with the quality of their legal education overall and still see law school as a worthwhile investment, but they really want more assistance from law schools in helping them land jobs in the legal sector. It behooves law schools to do all they can do to help their graduates secure work, as a program’s employment stats for graduates factors into law school rankings, which in turn is a factor for law school applicants. We also encourage students to take advantage of every networking and internship opportunity, which means visiting your law school’s career office early and often.”